Oneida Community Handbook
A SKETCH OF ITS FOUNDER
AND AN OUTLINE OF ITS
CONSTITUTION AND DOCTRINES
OFFICE OF THE CIRCULAR, WALLINGFORD, COMMUNITY
THE ONEIDA COMMUNITY.
Assuming that the reader may have heard enough of the above-named institution to excite his curiosity, while he is yet uninformed even as to its location and material character, we shall give a brief space at the outset to its external aspects. In place of offering a description of our own, however, it will be better to take that of a disinterested stranger. We therefore cite from the New York Tribune of May 1, 1867, the foIlowing portions of a.sketch by a Special Correspondent of that paper who was detailed to visit Oneida and report his observations.
THE ONEIDA COMMUNITY
"Four miles from Oneida, Madison Co., N.Y., a class calling themselves Christian Perfectionists, twenty years ago organized a Community. The leader was J.H. Noyes. Others have held similar views. These are the originators. From a long visit to this community, and from a mass of publications, I have condensed a full account. Some will be entertained, some startled, others will be appalled.
"The number is about 215; 25 are under 14 years of age. Property and persons are held in common. No one of himself owns anything. They commenced poor, now they are rich. The location is the most beautiful in the land. It embraces over 500 acres in the choice Oneida Valley. The principal residence is brick, three stories high, and as extensive, as neat, and as elegant as are buildings erected by the State for benevolent purposes. The grounds are laid out by a scientific, rural architect. There are evergreens, hedges, clumps of trees, shaded winding walks, bowers, summer-houses, and borders and gardens of flowers. The most refined taste is gratified. Last summer they had 6000 visitors.
Beside the central mansion are five large buildings, one for a general dining-hall, one for baking, one for washing by machinery and canning fruits, and others for various industries. Most of their cooking is done by steam. Large quantities of seasoned wood are at hand. In short, whatever is required by comfortable livers, to meet present and future wants, is in abundance.
"They have vineyards by the acre, raspberries, strawberries, and other small fruits, by 10 or 20 acres, and large pear and apple orchards. Their barns are as extensive and complete as any in the land. There is stabling for over one hundred horses and cattle.
"They have various manufacturing establishments. One is a saw and planing mill. One where traveling-satchels are made, employing thirty hands, and yearly producing $35,000 worth of goods, the foreman of which is a lady. Their manufacturing buildings, without machinery, cost $40,000. During ten years, they made half a million of steel traps. They have invented machines for cutting or stamping the various parts, which quickly do the hand-work of ten or fifteen men. Hence the work is good, and they are able to monopolize the business. Formerly, traps were imported from Germany. Their government tax is $8,000; the State and county tax $2,000.
"Besides, they have a furnace where they cast for themselves and others; and they have silk machinery of their own construction on which they largely manufacture sewing-silk. These machines are costly, and they are making them for sale. They can most kinds of fruit and prepare jellies, to the value of over $20,000 a year; the foreman is a lady. All their productions are in good repute.
They; have improved Ayrshire -and other stock.. I noticed a complete hedge of the Barberry. It is as good as the Osage, but it wants more time; .is far more hardy ; it is beautiful in winter.
"At Wallingford, Conn., is a branch of this Community, not quite so large, and where education is the chief feature. Another branch is in Broadway, in the Moffat building, which is a business house. At Wallingford they print a weekly newspaper.
"All eat in one large hall, at many tables. They provide neither tea nor coffee, and seldom meat. Vegetables, fruits, milk, butter, cheese, cakes, puddings and pies are abundant. Rarely have I eaten meals so well-cooked, so neat and so good. They equal, to my taste they excel, those at the best hotels.
They have a fine library, and they take the leading daily and weekly newspapers. They.publish a minute daily paper, which none but themselves see.. A handsome hall, furnished with chairs and small tables, is occupied by the members in the evening, in the same manner that a family gathers around the hearth: All rooms are heated through registers and pipes. At each table are lamps; the women knit and sew, and I saw a man knitting. Meanwhile, one will read a daily paper, or letters from friends; or short addresses. Then they talk over their affairs. In this way their evenings are spent until bed-time.
"They employ no physician, for they need none; no lawyer, for they are peaceable; and no preacher, for they are perfect. .... Musical instruments sound through the halls. They do not work on Sunday, but they do not call the day sacred. They neither baptize, nor partake of the sacrament. Their lives are continued worship.
"They accept the whole Bible. They came out of orthodox New England churches. All are well-informed. Their material success is complete. The skillful and the ablest are permitted, without hindrance, to strive for the common good. When labor and skill are harmoniously united, the only result must be riches, adornment, and every comfort."
In offering to the public a full account of the institution thus partially described, it is appropriate that we should commence with a sketch of Mr. J. H. NOYES, its founder. A glance at some of the peculiarities of his career, will afford to,the reader decided assistance in estimating the spirit and tendencies of the Community movement of which he is leader. The following biographical notice, with the accompanying matter, was first published in the American Phrenological Journal of October, 1866.
JOHN H. NOYES.
Mr. NOYES's family is of Puritan stock, his ancestor having emigrated from England to Newburyport, Mass., in 1634. His father, the late Hon. JOHN NOYES, graduated at Dartmouth College, was tutor to the class of DANIEL WEBSTER, and studied for the ministry, but subsequently devoted himself to mercantile pursuits. He was member of Congress for the southern district of Vermont in 1817, and died in 1841, at the age of seventy-seven, leaving considerable property to his children.
The mother's family, whose name was HAYES, came from New Haven, and was descended from one of the earliest settlers of the Connecticut colony. She was remarkable for conscientiousness and religious zeal, and took great care to have her children educated in the fear of God. She died at Oneida, April 11, 1866, aged eighty-six.
JOHN HUMPHREY NOYES, the fourth child of these parents, was born in Brattleboro, Vermont, Sept. 3d, 1811. He lived in his native town and in the neighboring town of Dummerston until he was ten years old, when he commenced fitting for college at the academy in Amherst, Mass, under the instruction of Gerard Hallock. After the usual course there and at other schools, he entered Dartmouth College at the age of fifteen, and graduated in 1830. He then commenced the study of law with his brother-in law, L G. Mead, Esq., but at the end of a year his attention was called to the subject of religion, by a protracted meeting in Putney Vt., to which place his father's family had now removed. We quote from. Mr. NOYES'S " Confessions of Religious Experience," published several years since: " After a painful process of conviction, in which the conquest of my aversion to becoming a minister was one of the critical points, I submitted to God, and obtained spiritual peace. With much joy and zeal I immediately devoted myself to the study of the Scriptures, and to religious testimony in private and public. The year 1831 was distinguished as 'the year of revivals.' New measures, protracted meetings, and New York evangelists had just entered New England, and the whole spirit of the people was fermenting with religious excitement. The millennium was supposed to be very near. I fully entered into the enthusiasm of the time; and seeing no reason why backsliding should be expected, or why the revival spirit might not be maintained in its full vigor permanently, I determined with all my inward strength to be 'a young convert' in zeal and simplicity forever. My heart was fixed on the millennium, and I resolved to live or die for it. Four weeks after my conversion I went to Andover, and was admitted to the Theological Seminary."
After one year spent at Andover he joined the Theological Seminary at Yale, and in August, 1833, was licensed to preach by the New Haven Association. For a short time after he received his license he labored as pastor of a small church in North Salem, N. Y. He says, "The first time I preached I read a written sermon-a thing which I never did afterward." Most of his ministerial labors, were, however, confined to New Haven and the neighboring towns. During the former part of his residence in New Haven he devoted his leisure hours to religious Iabor among the colored people of that city. " My heart," he says, " was greatly engaged in this work. At Andover I had become interested in the Anti-Slavery cause, and soon after I went to New Haven I took part, with a few pioneer abolitionists, in the formation of one of the earliest Anti-Slavery Societies in the country."
In February, 1834, while still connected with the Yale Theological Seminary, he embraced new views of Christian experience and theology, and was called thenceforth a Perfectionist. The principal points of his new faith may be thus stated: 1st. . That Christ's second coming, and the establishment of his kingdom, took place within one generation from the time of his personal ministry; 2d. . That the gospel of Christ provides means for full salvation, and consequently that no one living in sin and selfishness can justly claim the name of Christian in the highest sense of the word.
While at Andover he had been associated with such enthusiasts as LYMAN and MUNSON, who were afterwards killed by the cannibals on one of the islands of the East Indies; JUSTIN PERKINS, the Nestorian missionary; and CHAMPION, who went to Africa; and he had pledged himself to the American Board that he would become a foreign missionary. This pledge was withdrawn after his conversion to the new doctrines, for the following among other reasons: "I was already on missionary ground, among a people who (though professedly Christian) needed to be converted quite as much as the heathen."
In consequence of the announcement of the new doctrines, he was excluded from the Orthodox churches, deposed from the ministry, subjected to a flood of contention from the college and the seminary, forsaken by friends and relatives, and sent forth with the reputation of a fanatic and madman. In his own language, "I had lost my standing in the church, in the ministry, and in the college. My good name in the great world was gone. My friends were fast falling away. I was beginning to be indeed an outcast. Yet I rejoiced and leaped for joy. Some persons asked me whether I should continue to preach, now that the clergy had taken away my license. I replied, "I have taken away their license to sin, and they keep on sinning; so, though they have taken away my license to preach, I shall keep on preaching."
The term Perfectionist was applied to two classes who came out from the Orthodox churches at about the same period. They resembled each other in many respects (both classes apprehending alike the great truth, that the new covenant means salvation from sin, the security of believers, the substitution of grace for law and ordinances, etc.), but there was yet this fundamental and important distinction: one class appropriated these doctrines in the interest of individualism, the other in the interest of unity; one class scorned the idea of subordination and discipline, the other joyfully received the idea of organization, and were willing to submit to such discipline as organic harmony should require; one class were all leaders, a regiment of officers, many of whom were for a time eloquent champions of the new truths, but the majority of them rushed into excesses which dishonored the name Perfectionist; the other class, led by J. H. NOYES, have persevered in a course of self-improvement, overcoming many obstacles, and finally have developed a system of principles and a form of. practical life which at least challenge the attention of the world.
One secret of the success of the latter class may be found in the fact, that while its leader has been interested in all reforms, and free to investigate all philosophies, and given to the most free and radical thinking, his respect for the Bible and veneration for its spirit are greater to-day than they were when he promised to be " a young convert forever."
Mr. NOYES has recently been conspicuous as the founder of the Oneida Community; and it is probable that the general reader will be most interested in his career as a socialist. But it should be clearly understood, that his socialism is only the outgrowth of his religious views and experience, and that socialism has never occupied the primary place in his mind. He has ever insisted, that the restoration of true relations between God and man should precede all efforts to reorganize society. In accordance with this view, the first twelve years subsequent to his second conversion were mainly occupied. in meditations and studies, which resulted in the development of new theories on most theological subjects. Some idea of his labors in this department may be obtained by a glance at the "Berean," a volume of 500 pages, published at Putney, Vt., in 1847. He is to-day much more deeply interested in the development of truth looking toward the redemption of men from sin and selfishness, than in any plans for the improvement of the mere external arrangements of society.
Although new principles in respect to the final relations of the sexes were discovered by him early in his career (which were published in Philadelphia in 1837 without his knowledge or consent), yet he steadily refused for twelve years to authorize or countenance among his disciples any departures from common sexual morality, and finally commenced innovations only after the development of the principles of mutual criticism and of male continence, which have been the effectual safeguards of Communism and social freedom. While holding that love should be free between the sexes in a state of society where selfishness is displaced by Christian unity, and where the above safeguards are in operation, he regards irresponsible, anarchic free love as only one form of licentiousness.
COMMENCEMENT OF PRACTICAL COMMUNISM.
Perfectionism assumed the form of association first at Putney, Vt., in a small circle of the immediate connections of J. H. NOYES. His wife (whose original name was HARRIET A. HOLTON), and several members of his father's family being associated with him in religious faith, and in the business of editing and printing, adopted, or rather naturally fell into, the principle of community of interests. From 1840 to 1847 there was a gradual accession of members, till the family numbered nearly forty. During the same period all the leading principles of the present social theory of the Oneida Community were worked out theoretically and practically; and, step by step, the school advanced from community of faith to community of property, community of households, community of affections.
O!RGANIZATION OF THE ONEIDA COMMUNITY.
The village of Putney was at first considerably excited on account of the religious doctrines of the new society, and afterward still more disturbed by the development of its social principles; and the little band was finally compelled to seek a new location for the Community school. On the same day that the exodus from Putney commenced (Nov. 26, 1847), practical movements were being made by Perfectionists of the same faith toward the formation of a Community at Oneida, Madison County, N. Y. The Putney exiles joined these brethren, and on the first day of the following March the Oneida Community was fully organized. Other smaller Communities have since been established at Wallingford and at New Haven, Conn., in New York city, and at Willow Place near Oneida.
THE PENTECOSTAL MODEL.
These Communities are organized after the model exhibited to the world on the day of Pentecost: "The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul; neither said any of them that aught of the things which he posessed was his own, but they had all things common." There is free interchange of men and means between the different Communities, and no accounts (except for purposes of information) are kept between the several Communities, or the members of the same Community. Their constitution and by-laws are not written instruments, but principles wrought out and embodied in customs and institutions. The general character of the government is similar to that of a family. Indeed, the Community organization began as a family, and has grown as a family, with this important difference, that in the original compact between Mr. Noyes, and his wife, they mutually agreed not to be exclusively devoted to each other, but to receive others into their unity. Under this compact the original duality has been gradually increased until it embraces about 300 souls. When prudent persons intend marriage, they first seek acquaintance with each other, and endeavor to ascertain whether they are adapted to make each other happy-whether, in short, they love each other well enough to commit themselves to each other "for better or for worse." Thus it is in joining the Communities: all permanent connections are preceded by acquaintance, and take place as the result of affection and deliberate consultation. And as the original compact admits of a plurality of partners to the game marriage, so the effort and aim of the original pair has been to multiply the fathers and mothers of the Communities-to educate and encourage others to fill their places as guides and counselors; and they have so far succeeded, that their personal presence is not regarded as.essential to the harmonious development of associative life.
MEANS OF GOVERNMENT.
The measures relied upon for good government, in these Community families are, first, daily evening meetings, which all are expected to attend, and in which religious, social and business matters are freely discussed; and secondly, the system of mutual criticism. This system takes the place of backbiting in ordinary society, and is regarded as one of the greatest means of improvement and fellowship. All of the members are accustomed to voluntarily invite the benefit of criticism from time to time. Sometimes persons are criticised by the entire family; at other times by a committee of six, eight, twelve, or more, selected by themselves from among those best acquainted with them, and best able to do justice to their character. In these criticisms the most perfect sincerity is expected; and in practical experience it is found best for the subject to receive his criticism without replying.- There is little danger that the general verdict in respect to his character will be unjust. This ordinance is far from agreeable to those whose egotism and vanity are stronger than their love of truth. It is an ordeal which reveals insincerity and selfishness; but it also often takes the form of commendation, and reveals hidden virtues as well as secret faults. It is always acceptable to those who wish to see themselves as others see them.
These two agencies, viz. daily evening meetings and criticism, are found quite adequate to the maintenance of good order and government in the Communities. Those who join the Communities understanding their principles, and afterward prove refractory and inharmonic, and also those who come into the Communities in childhood, and afterwards develop characters antagonistic to the general spirit, and refuse to yield to the governmental agencies mentioned, either voluntarily withdraw or are expelled. Only one case of expulsion has, however, been recorded.
The organization by which the business of the Oneida Community is managed is simple and easily explained. The first great wheel of the machine is the weekly meeting of the Business Board, comprising the heads of industrial departments and such others as choose to attend its sessions. It might be called a board of directors. Its officers are a chairman, whose duty it is to preside at the deliberations of the Board, and a secretary, who preserves a record of the proceedings. All the members of the Community are free to participate in the deliberations of this Board., and it is a limited body only because all who are not especially interested in managing, generally choose to stay away. The report of the secretary is read to the entire Community on the evening following the session of the Board, and opportunity is then given for discussion of any measure resolved upon by the Board; and business matters are frequently referred for discussion and decision by the Board to the general meeting; so that constant communication is kept up between the Board and the mass of the Community. There are no secret sessions. Everything is free, open, democratic. In the early spring of each year a special session of the Business Board is called for maturing plans of a business campaign, and for organizing the forces of the season. Previous to the meeting a conspicuous bulletin invites every one to hand in a written slip, stating what department of business he would like to engage in, etc. An organizing committee is appointed at this annual meeting who select foremen for the different departments of business, and apportion the help, keeping in view as much as possible the expressed choice of individuals. Their plan is submitted to the Board for approval or amendment, and also to the family in general assembly. Still further, a standing committee is appointed at the annual meeting, consisting of two or three persons of approved judgment, whose duty it is to have a general. oversight of all the businesses, and transfer hands from one department to another, as the fluctuations of business or the improvement of individuals may require.
The women also have a similar organization for the management of their particular departments of business.
In determining upon any course of action or policy, unanimity is always sought by committees, by the Business Board, and by the Community. All consider themselves as one party, and intend to act together or not at all. This principle is illustrated in the working of juries. It forms part of the constitution of the Community. If there are serious objections to any proposed measure, action is delayed until the objections are removed. The majority never go ahead leaving a grumbling minority behind. This principle is found compatible with prompt action and the transaction of large and complicated business.
THE SOCIAL ORGANIZATION
of the Oneida Community and its branches, and the intercourse of the sexes, are also easily explained and readily understood. In the first place, the Communities believe, contrary to the theory of the novelists and others, that the affections can be controlled and guided, and that they will produce far better results when rightly controlled and rightly guided than if left to take care of themselves without restraint. They entirely reject the idea that love is an inevitable and uncontrollable fatality, which must have its own course. They believe the whole matter of love and its expression should be subject to enlightened self-control, and should be managed for the greatest good. In the Communities it is under the special supervision of the fathers and mothers, or, in other words, of the wisest and best members, and is often under discussion in the evening meetings, and is also subordinate to the institution of criticism. The fathers and mothers are guided in their management by certain general principles which have been worked out, and are well understood in the Communities. One is termed the principle of the ascending fellowship. It is regarded as better for the young of both sexes to associate in love with persons older than themselves, and, if possible, with those who are spiritual and have been some time in the school of self-control, and who are thus able to make love safe and edifying. This is only another form of the popular principle of contrasts. It is well understood by physiologists, that it is undesirable for persons of similar characters and temperaments to mate together. Communists have discovered that it is not desirable for two inexperienced and unspiritual persons to rush into fellowship with each other; that it is far better for both to associate with persons of mature character and sound sense.
Another general principle well understood in the Communities, is, that it is not desirable for two persons, whatever may be their standing , to become exclusively attached to each other - to worship and idolize each other-however popular this experience may be with sentimental people generally. They regard exclusive, idolatrous attachment as unhealthy and pernicious wherever it may exist. The Communities insist that the heart should be kept free to love all the true and worthy, and should. never be contracted with exclusiveness or idolatry, or purely selfish love in any form.
Another principle, well known and carried out in the Communities, is, that persons shall not be obliged to receive under any circumstances the attentions of those whom they do not like. They abhor rapes, whether committed under the cover of marriage or elsewhere. The Communities are pledged to protect all their members from disagreeable social approaches. Every woman is free to refuse every man's attentions.
Still another principle is, that it is best for men in their approaches to women, to invite personal interviews through the intervention of a third party, for two important reasons: viz., first, that the matter may be brought in some measure under the inspection of the Community; and, secondly, that the women may decline proposals, if they choose, without embarrassment or restraint.
Under the operation of these general principles, but little difficulty attends the practical carrying out of the social theory of the Communities. As fast as the members become enlightened, they govern themselves by these very principles. The great aim is to teach every one self-control. This leads to the greatest happiness in love, and the greatest good to all.
Sexual freedom in the Communities is subject to the general restriction prescribed by the doctrine of Male Continence; i e., all men are expected to make it a point of honor to refrain from the propagative part of sexual intercourse, except when propagation is intended and provided for by due consultation with the Community and with the other party concerned.
But little practical advance has been made in the direction of propagation. The Community is waiting for light; but in the mean time holds firmly that this is one of the most important interests of society, and should not be left to blind chance or selfish, uncivilized passion, but should be placed under the control of scientific guidance, equal at least to that which is applied to perfecting the breeds of valuable animals.
The children of the Community are cared for in the following manner: During the period of nursing, the mother devotes herself to her child as much as she pleases; has a room to herself, and assistants, if she wishes. When the child is weaned, say at the age of a year or fifteen months, it is placed in the general nursery or children's department. This is an establishment separate from the main household, but in close communication with it, and always open to mothers, and to all who choose to visit it. The mother, on weaning her child, generally takes her turn for a while in the children's department as assistant. Children remain in this establishment under the care of men and women selected for their skill in managing the young, till the age of twelve or fourteen. The smallest children eat in the nursery at a table by themselves. The rest eat at the general table with the family. All attend school, and are taught to read, write, etc.
The Communists have no formal creed, but are firmly and unanimously attached to the Bible, as the text-book of the Spirit of truth; to Jesus Christ, as the eternal Son of God -to the Apostles and Primitive Church, as the exponents of the everlasting Gospel. Their belief is, that the Second advent of Christ took place at the period of the destruction of Jerusalem ; that at that time there was a primary resurrection and judgment in the spiritual world; that the final kingdom of God then began in the heavens; that the manifestation of that kingdom in the visible world is now approaching; that its approach is ushering in the second and final resurrection and judgment; that a church on earth is now rising to meet the approaching kingdom in the heavens, and to become its duplicate and representative; that inspiration, or open communication with God and the heavens, involving perfect holiness, is the element of connection between the church on earth and the church in the heavens, and the power by which the kingdom of God is to be established and reign in the world.
From what has been said it will readily appear that the Community combines in one organization the various functions of Education, Religion, Industry, and Domestic Life. These in ordinary society are separated. The church is in one place, the school in another, the work-shop in a third, and the family is apart from them all. In Communism these various interests are consolidated and interlocked; and their benefits, instead of having to be sought for abroad, are brought to all the members of the society within the limits of that one best locality, Home- are abundant; but few, however, of those who apply are considered ready to enter the society, and are generally advised to study more thoroughly its character and principles, before attempting a permanent junction. No one is considered fit for membership who has not previously commended himself as earnestly devoted to the same objects the Communities have in view. Those who really love the principles of the society are certain to attract the fellowship of its members wherever they are, and so become virtually identified with them, whether they come into formal connection with them or not. Persons, on actually joining the Oneida Community or any of its branches, are expected to sign the following document:
" On the admission of any member, all property belonging to him or her becomes the property of the Community. A record of the estimated amount will be kept, and in case of the subsequent withdrawal of the member, the Community, according to its practice heretofore, will refund the property or an equivalent amount. This practice, however, stands on the ground, not of obligation, but of expediency and liberality; and the time and manner of refunding must be trusted to the discretion of the Community. While a person remains a member, his subsistence and education in the Community are held to be just equivalents for his labor; and no accounts are kept between him and the Community, and no claim of wages accrues to him in case of subsequent withdrawal."
Those who brought no property into the Community, if they withdraw honorably, are given a good outfit of clothing and a sum of money not exceeding one hundred dollars.
NO PLACE FOR SELFISH PERSONS.
Of course in Communities, where the members are sincerely devoted to such principles as have been described, poverty, oppression, and crime must be unknown. There can be no rich unless all are rich. There can be no poor unless all are poor. Every one will be respected according to his worth. Individual happiness will be found in seeking the general happiness and good of all. In the words of a Communistic writer: "There is here the largest liberty for love and generosity, but no liberty for selfishness and seeking one's own. If a person can find gratification in the public service and the prosperity of the whole, then a Commune is exactly his place. But those who enter with their eye mainly on private luxury and pleasure-seeking, are courting special disappointment. True Communism has nothing for them but arrest and crucifixion until their motive is changed. The freedom to enjoy, which it is supposed must exist in such a state of society, has its counterpart in the renunciation of all selfish aims."
FINANCIAL EXPERIENCES AND CONDITIONS.
The Communities have not made the accumulation of wealth a primary object. They care not for money, except as it enables them to publish what they consider the truth, and to embody their ideal of a true life. The Community at Oneida was not, for the first eight years of its existence, self-supporting, owing to many causes such as the lack of well-organized businesses, the printing of a free paper, extortions of seceders, outside enemies, etc.; but since 1857 there has been a gradual improvement in its circumstances. The Indian log-hut and unpainted wooden dwellings of the first year were early replaced by commodious wooden structures, to which are now added substantial brick houses. Their domain now comprises over 500 acres of well-cultivated land. The orchards, vineyards, and gardens cover about 50 acres. Much attention is given to the cultivation of grapes, strawberries, and other small fruits. Four hundred bushels of strawberries and eight tons of grapes have been harvested in a single season.
To the single water-power originally purchased, two others have been added, and a large proportion of the Community members are employed in the different mechanical branches carried on. Beside the ordinary businesses of carpentry, blacksmithing, shoemaking, tailoring, dentistry, etc., there is a large satchel-factory on the site of the old Indian saw-mill. At another location there is an iron foundry and saw-mill. At another there are large machine-shops and extensive trap-works, where are annually made many thousands of Newhouse's celebrated steel traps, known among all trappers from Maine to Oregon and from the Hudson Bay to Texas. Here, also, are the Community silk-works, which employ thirty hands in the manufacture of sewing-silk. At still another place the business of fruit preserving is carried on. The fruits, vegetables, and jellies here put up are in such repute as causes the demand for them to generally exceed the supply. Several, other branches of manufactures are carried on, such, as the making of tin cans, hop-stoves, bag-frames, window-caps, &c. The earnings of the Community for the last ten years have averaged $18,000 a year, clear of expenses.
WOMAN'S POSITION IN THE COMMUNITY.
In this connection it may be remarked, that two of the leading businesses of the Community are superintended by women, viz, satchel-making, and fruit-preserving. Women also keep the accounts of the community, and are found well-adapted to this employment. The sexes freely mingle.in many departments of industry, and women enjoy many privileges denied them in ordinary society. They are at least relieved from household drudgery, and from the curse of excessive and undesired propagation, and allowed a fair chance with their brothers in education and labor.
Compulsory labor is neither sought nor permitted in the Communities. The aim is to make labor attractive, and a means of improvement; and this is found compatible with good and industrious habits. The members occasionally exchange employments, and many who brought a single trade into the society, are now equally proficient in many others. Mr. NOYES, the leader, has chosen an exceedingly varied course of service during his life in the Community, having worked as a farmer, gardener, brick-mason, job-printer, bag-maker, tinker, editor, steward, blacksmith, trapper, etc., and been active in starting several of the most profitable businesses of the Community. In the department of trap-making, he has originated several mechanical improvements of great service.
The Communities furnish employment to many who have not yet learned that they can do better than to work for wages. More than eighty outside helpers are at present on the pay-roll of the Oneida Community.
The Communists think much of integral education, and consider a knowledge of the practical arts not less important than the wisdom gained from books, and the culture of the heart and social character as most essential. But facilities for acquiring a good book education are allotted to all-to the old as well as the young. Persons of three-score and ten are seen as enthusiastically devoted to self-improvement as the young and middle-aged. It is in contemplation to establish at some future day a Community University, wherein all sciences shall be taught to persons of both Sexes and of all ages; and the surplus income of the Oneida Community and its branches, whatever it may be, will be devoted to this enterprise and other like objects of improvement.
DIET AND DRESS.
Tobacco and ardent spirits are not used in the Communities; neither are tea and coffee. The members are not Grahamites, yet use little meat, preferring fruit and a farinaceous diet. The short dress has been worn by the Community women since the summer of 1848; and it is supposed that the style originated at Oneida.
THE WALLINGFORD COMMUNITY
was establised in 1851, has about 50 members and 228 acres of land, and is principally occupied with printing and educational enterprises. It has a situation well-suited to the development of the educational purposes of the combined Communes.
THE NEW YORK AGENCY
was established nearly two years since, for the benefit of the Communities. It has, however, grown into a general Purchasing Agency, for the benefit of all who choose to avail themselves of its acquaintance with the New York markets, or who cannot afford to visit the city. It is also engaged in supplying dealers, manufacturers, and. others with sewing and machine silks.
THE NEW HAVEN FAMILY.
This is a permanent family established in the city of New Haven, Conn., to furnish a boarding-place for such students of the Community as wish to pursue a college course of education. Here, three young men are maintained as students in the Scientific and Professional departments of Yale College, and on their graduation others will take their places.
WILLOW PLACE BRANCH.
The last offshoot from the O. C. is a pleasant family of thirty members lately established at Willow Place, about a mile from the parent stock. It is in the immediate vicinity of the Community Iron and Silk works, and its industry will be mainly in connection with those departments.
OUTLINE OF DOCTRINES.
The reader will have seen by the foregoing statement, that the Community has its basis in religious ideas. Those ideas, while claiming authority from the Bible, will seem to many as new and revolutionary as the social structure which they sustain. In fact, Communism, as held at Oneida, cannot for a moment be dissevered from its theology. The two must be considered together, and together stand or fall. The two corner-stones of doctrine, equally important, on which Communism rests are the doctrine of, Complete Regeneration, or Salvation from Sin, and the truth that the Second Coming of Christ, and the founding of his heavenly kingdom, took place 1800 years ago. The first furnishes the personal or experimental basis, the second, the historical and political. If Christianity in its full power saves from selfishness, its subjects can no longer have any isolated interests, but must necessarily be resolved into unity. Again, if the final Kingdom of Heaven has been established by Christ's second coming, all progress among men, must consist in an approximation to its standard of manners and social life. The highest civilization must rule, and a final coalescence of the institutions of visible and invisible society must take place, on the platform of resurrection refinement and unity. Those who accept the promises here given, are compelled by a clear line of argument to adopt a new social standard. For such as may wish to see a specimen of the proof by which those premises are established, we submit the two following articles, the first, an exposition of the New Testament doctrine of Regeneration; and the second, an argument on the time, nature and consequences of the Second Coming of Christ.
I. THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH PLATFORM
"As he spake .... many believed on him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye. continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We -be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever - but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." JOHN 8: 30-36.
1. It is evident from this passage that persons may properly be said to " believe" on Christ, who are not saved from sin. Christ addressed those who are here said to have "believed on him," not as already children of God, but as merely candidates for the knowledge of the truth, and for the liberty of the gospel: and afterwards he plainly told them that they were wicked men. See ver. 37, 40, &c. Their believing on him was simply a recognition of his divine authority, and a Surrender of themselves, more or less sincere, to his tuition for the time being. They believed on him in a general way as a teacher, but they could not at that time believe on him as a spiritual Savior, or in the specific doctrines by which ultimate salvation is effected, because his revelation of himself in his spiritual character, and of his great system of saving truth, had not then taken place, but was awaiting his death and resurrection, and the effusion of the Spirit. They had entered the school of the gospel, but had hardly yet commenced their studies, and knew little or nothing of the spiritual science which was to be taught in that school, or of its moral results. We learn, from the fact that they are said to have "believed on Christ," that the term "believer" is generic, and properly extends to all classes in the school; from those who have just entered, and are yet in a sinful state, to those who have attained full salvation. At the present day, therefore, we should regard all as believers who recognize the divine authority of Christ, and surrender themselves to his instructions; all who submit themselves to the teachings of the Bible, and manifest faith in the words of Christ, however general and indefinite. Revivals, and the efforts of the churches, so far as they turn men to incipient faith, cause them to respect and study the Bible, and thus introduce them to the school of the gospel, are to be recognized as valuable and necessary agencies. There are multitudes, undoubtedly, in the churches, who have been brought by these agencies to a submission to Christ as their instructor, and are therefore properly entitled to the name of believers.
2. We observe that Christ did not regard mere incipient faith as a sure pledge of true discipleship, but made continuance of faith the condition of his promise of final illumination and liberty. He did not say to those who believed on him, "You are converted, and therefore your salvation is secure." He did not preach to them the "perseverance of the saints." But he said, " If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed, and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."' It is evident from the subsequent account, that many of these believers did very soon fall away and become bitter enemies of Christ. The fact then that a person is converted, by the influence of a revival or other means, to a present attention to religion, and submission to the instructions of Christ, does not insure his salvation. He is, for the time being, a believer; but whether he is a true disciple, ie. a permanent pupil of Christ, remains to be seen. He has entered the school; but whether he has counted the cost of a spiritual education, so that he is prepared to forsake father, mother, brother, sister, houses, lands and life, for the knowledge of Christ, is not certain, The name of disciple properly belongs, not to mere believers. but to continuous believers. It is not to be wondered at that multitudes who are awakened by revivals to an acknowledgment of the claims of Christ, never attain even to disciple ship, but immediately fall away. They are generally led, by the influence of those who are around and above them in the churches, to consider themselves as born of God and sure of heaven; to look for no subsequent conversion; to expect declension, rather than an upward course. If they were made to know at the outset that conversion is but an entrance into a school, in which they will be required to advance steadily and patiently from truth to truth till they overcome ALL SIN, and that until they thus graduate, they are only disciples, not sons of God, not secure from apostasy and destruction, we might look for deeper purposes and more durable conversions. However, even under the present unfavorable influences, it is not to be doubted that many converts of the churches continue to believe and seek the words of Christ, more or less earnestly, and thus prove themselves true disciples.
3. We notice that the knowledge of the truth, and the liberty which it gives, is promised to those who have entered upon a permanent. discipleship, as a future attainment. "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." This language implies that, though they have believed on Christ, and are true disciples, they do not yet know the truth, and are not yet made free; though they have been converted, a second and greater conversion awaits them, without which the first cannot avail to give them true freedom.
4. It is apparent from the passage under consideration that the second conversion which is promised to true disciples, is nothing less than a deliverance from all sin. When Christ had said to them that believed on him, " If ye continue in my word .... ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," they replied (as persons having a high conceit of their own state naturally would), "We be Abraham's seed, [ i. e. members of the true church,] and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?" He answered, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin ; " i. e., "though you are Abraham's seed, the chosen people of God, members of the true church, extemally freemen; though you even believe on me, and have commenced. a true discipleship; yet if you commit sin, the worst of slavery, viz., spiritual bondage, is upon you." Thus he plainly gave them to understand that when he said, " Ye shall be made free," he referred to freedom from sin. And it is evident he intended freedom from all sin, from the obvious and necessary import of the sentence, "Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin." 'To say (as some would have it), "Whosoever committeth sin habitually is the servant of sin, would amount to this_"Whosoever is the servant of sin, is the servant of sin:" a mere tautology. The interpolation of the word habitually, or of any equivalent word, is wholly unauthorized, unnecessary, and destructive of the force of the passage. Christ's meaning manifestly is that the commission of sin is proof of a sinful state of heart, and consequently of permanent spiritual bondage to sin-a sentiment which the scrutiny of sound theologians always, confirms. Entire freedom from sin, then, is the blessing which Christ promises to his true disciples, as the effect of their ultimate knowledge of the truth. With any attainment short of this, a man cannot be said to know the truth, or to possess the liberty of the gospel. He may be a believer, and a true disciple, but he is not in the highest sense a Christian. He has not taken the second degree in the gospel, to which the first is only an introduction.
5. We learn from this passage that the true division line between those who have security of salvation and those who have not, lies between those who are free from sin, and those who are not. After saying, " Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin," thus determining who are servants, Christ proceeds-" The servant abideth not in the house forever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." In other words, " He that commits sin is in a servile condition, and like literal servants is exposed at any time to be dismissed from the household, and must ultimately leave it, either by dismissal or by becoming a son. As a servant, he is not a permanent member of the family. But a son is by blood indissolubly joined to his father, and has a natural, perpetual right in the household. If therefore the Son of God, by the revelation of the truth, shall make you free from all sin, and identify you with himself, you.shall be free from all fear of dismissal from the household of God; and this is freedom indeed." During the period of discipleship, then, i. e. after the first conversion, and before the second, while the believer is on the one hand a pupil in the school of Christ, and on the other a servant of sin, his relation to God is not necessarily a permanent one: he has no right to feel secure. But after the second conversion, when he has been made free from sin by the truth, and has passed from discipleship to sonship, his relation to God is necessarily permanent, and he has a right to feel secure.
We apprehend that the great dispute between Methodists and Calvinists about the perseverance of the saints, might be adjusted by introducing the theory of two conversions. Methodists prove by appeal to a variety of texts, that the promises of salvation are conditional. So indeed they are, to the subjects of the first conversion. " If ye continue in my word ... ye shall know the truth." This IF everywhere confronts those who are in a state of sinful discipleship. On the other hand, Calvinists prove by appeal to an equal variety of texts that the promises of salvation are unconditional. Again we say, So indeed they are to the subjects of the second conversion. " The Son abideth ever." " Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin ; for his seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." While the first conversion is liable to failure, because it is in a degree the work of man's will, the second is forever sure, because it is wholly the work of God. The text quoted by Methodists on one side, and by Calvinists on the other, clash with each other when they are applied indiscriminately to all believers; but harmonize perfectly, when they are applied separately to the two classes. Both parties in the controversy are right, and both are wrong. The Methodists are right in asserting that sinful believers are liable to fall away, but wrong in extending this assertion to those who are born of God and saved from sin. The Calvinists are right in asserting that " the saints [i. e. they who are saved from sin] will infallibly persevere unto eternal life," but wrong in extending this assertion to sinful believers. We agree with the Methodists that the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, as applied to the subjects of the first conversion, tends to encourage carnal security and sloth, because it finds in them sinful hearts, prone to abuse blessings. And we agree with the Calvinists that the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, as applied to those who are really born of God, is safe and edifying, because it finds in them no sin, and of course no disposition to abuse it; while it comforts, strengthens, and establishes them in holiness.
In like manner the chief dispute between Perfectionists and Imperfectionists, might be adjusted by recurrence to the theory of two classes of believers. On the one hand, Perfectionists insist that the primitive believers were perfectly holy. This is a truth which can never be successfully assailed, so long as it is limited in its application to those who had advanced from primary discipleship to that knowledge of the truth which according to Christ's promise, makes free from sin; whom Paul called "spiritual" and "perfect" (1 Cor. 2: 6-15, Gal. 6: 1, Phil. 3: 15), and John called "sons" of God." (1 John 3: 1, compare 3: 9, and 5: 18.) On the other hand, Imperfectionists insist that the primitive believers were carnal. This is a truth equally unassailable, if it is restricted to incipient believers. By confounding the two classes, and arraying the texts which relate to them separately, in opposition to each other, an endless dispute may be spun out on the question whether perfect holiness existed in the primitive church. By admitting the distinction of classes, and assigning each text to its appropriate class, Perfectionists may allow full force to all the evidence which their opponents adduce to prove the sinfulness of the primitive church, and yet maintain their position that perfect holiness existed in that church, and is the standard of mature Christianity. It was the special glory of the primitive church, that its platform was broad enough to hold all believers-from those who were just beginning to struggle with sin, to those who had attained perfect and everlasting holiness. On the one hand it did not, like the platforms of most modem churches, bar out those who believed and professed perfection; and on the other, it did not, like the platforms of many ultra-Perfectionists, thrust all sinful disciples "into outer darkness:" but it made room for all; gave a home of union and love to all; and every one, whether weak or strong in faith, found there his " portion of meat in due season." Such a platform is glorious, because it bridges over the whole chasm between a sinful world and heaven. The platforms of most modern churches are near enough to a sinful world, but there is a "great gulf" between them and heaven: and the platforms of many modern Perfectionists are near enough to heaven, but there is a "great gulf" between them and a sinful world. The platform of the primitive church united the advantages of both. It was not a starving settlement at the foot of Mount Zion, where men only hoped to reach the top after death; nor yet was it an armed and frowning fortress on the top of that Mount, where a favored few gloried in their exaltation, while they repulsed from them a world of sinners: but it was a " WAY OF HOLINESS" reaching from the very foot to the very top of Zion, easily accessible to the world at one end, and opening into the glories of eternity at the other. On it the ransomed of the Lord, of every grade of faith, found footing and help, for their whole journey from earth to heaven. Such a church platform is the very thing needed above all others at the present hour. Wesley and his associates almost succeeded in re-opening the way of holiness; but they failed. Their chief attention was directed to the lower end of the road, and so they neglected to clear away fully the rubbish at the upper end. The main body and ruling power of their church was, from the beginning, the lower class of believers; and their efforts were chiefly directed to the work of effecting the first conversion. Perfect holiness was only a secondary appendage to Methodism, even in its best days. Hence as the life of that church has decayed, its attention to perfection has naturally grown less and less, till now it is like the other churches, only a school for sinful disciples. The lower class of believers has swallowed up the other, and now occupies the whole platform. Besides, Wesley, in denying the security of the higher class, left a dismal barrier at the upper end of the way of holiness, which broke the communication of his church with heaven. These remarks may be applied without much alteration to Oberlin Perfectionism, which, in respect to the secondary place of perfect holiness, the insecurity of the higher class of believers, and every other essential feature, is only an attempted repetition of the system of Wesley. The erection of a church in which perfect and everlasting holiness shall reign at the centre, while believers in every stage of discipleship shall find in it a home, is a work which remains yet to be done. And it must be done before Christianity can have its final agency for winning the world:
A practical deduction from the views that presented which we wish in conclusion to suggest and impress, is, that Perfectionists ought not to despise and oppose "revivals" (by which we mean special awakenings of attention to the general subject of religion), but to encourage and promote them, sofar as this can be done without sacrificing any part of the truth of the gospel, and so far as they are directed to the general object of turning men from mammonism and vanity, to the fear of the Lord and attention to his word. Such revivals, though they do not place their converts on the ground of perfect holiness, introduce them to the school of Christ and make them candidates for the knowledge of the truth and the liberty of the gospel. Perfectionism was born at New Haven in such a revival; and most of those who have become Perfectionists within the last thirty years, had previously been converts and laborers in such revivals. The first conversion, though it has not the security, and of itself cannot save the soul, is a preparatory step to the second conversion, and as such should be valued.
At the same time we ought to remember that it is but half a revival, where non-professors only are converted. A whole revival would be one in which, as fast as the " impenitent" were converted to discipleship, the "professors" would be converted to perfect holiness. The work of conviction would advance as fast in the church as out of it, and the shout of "sinners saved from hell," would be answered by the shout of "Christians" saved from sin
II. THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST.
ON almost every page of the New Testament we find the Second Coming of Christ held up as the central beacon-light of the hopes of believers-an event which should bring them a perfect, secure, and glorious redemption. We select the foIlowing passages as specimens of a multitude of expressions relating to that event:-" Then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory: and when these things begin to come to pass, then look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh." Luke 21: 26, 27. "Our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, and make it like unto his glorious body." Phil 3: 20. "When Christ,, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory." Col. 3: 4.
"Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous Judge shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but to all them also that love his appearing." 2 Tim. 4: 8. " Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ." Titus. 2: 13. " Unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation." Heb. 11 : 28. " Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain: be ye also patient, stablish your hearts, for the coming. of the Lord draweth nigh." James 5: 7, 8. "Gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." 1 Pet. 1: 13. " We know that when he shall appear we shall be like him." 1 John 3: 2, &c.
The glorious event which thus animated the faith of primitive believers, as marking the period of the perfection of their faith, and their entrance upon the possession of the fullness of the gift of God's grace, though seemingly nigh at hand at that time, is at this day generally thrown forward, in the faith of the churches, into the shadows of a distant and indefinite futurity. Our object in the present article, is to call the attention of those who love the word of God more than creeds, to the testimony of that word concerning the time of the second coming of the Son of man.
I. DEFINITION OF THE SECOND COMING.
We do not mean by the second coming of Christ, the final and general judgment. The popular notion concerning the judgment of mankind is, that it is to be a single transaction, occupying a single period of time. Joining this notion to the discovery, which every reader of the New Testament must ultimately make, that the judgment of the second coming is clearly predicted in the New Testament as immediately to follow the destruction of Jerusalem, many have believed and taught that the judgment (meaning the whole, or final judgment) is past. These views, whether held by Universalists or Perfectionists, we disclaim, and instead of them, insist that the judgment of mankind, according to scripture, is divided into two acts, occupying two periods of time, separated from each other by an interval of more than a thousand years. In the twentieth chapter of Revelations this division of the judgment is unequivocally described. John saw, when Satan was first bound and cast into the pit, thrones and judgment given to the martyrs of Christ, and they lived and reigned with him a thousand years, but the rest of the dead lived not. "This," says the apostle, "is the first resurrection ;" and we may properly add, this is the first judgment. Rev. 20: 5. Afterward Satan is loosed again, gathers Gog and Magog to the great battle, is defeated and cast into the lake of fire forever. Then again appears a throne, a second resurrection and a second judgment. Rev. 20: 12.
The same division of the judgment into two acts, separated by a long interval, is very conspicuous in the vision of the seals and trumpets. Rev. 6: 7, &c. When the sixth seal opens, the Lamb appears on the throne of judgment and the tribes of the earth wail because of him, saying, " the great day of his wrath is come." Afterward the seventh seal is opened, and seven angels with trumpets are introduced. As they sound their trumpets successively, a variety of events transpire, necessarily occupying a long period of time. At length, after the sounding of the seventh trumpet, Christ is proclaimed sovereign of the world, and a second and final day of judgment is announced. Rev. 11: 15-18. Unless the sixth seal covers the same period with the seventh trumpet (which cannot be maintained with any show of reason), it is manifest to mere inspection that there are two acts of judgment-two periods of wrath and recompense.
As God divided mankind into two great families-the Jews and the Gentiles_so he has appointed a separate judgment for each. The harvest of the Jews came first, because they were ripened first. God separated them from the rest of the nations, and for two thousand years poured upon them the sunshine and the rain of religious discipline. When Christ came, he said the fields were white. By the preaching of Christ and his apostles, the process necessary to make way for the judgment was complete. At the destruction of Jerusalem, the Jews as a nation were judged. Then the kingdom of heaven passed from the Jews to the Gentiles. Matt., 21: 43. God commenced a process of preparation for a second judgment. The Gentiles came under the sunshine and rain, which had before been sent upon the Jews. For nearly two thousand years the Gentile crop has been maturing, and we may reasonably look for the Gentile harvest as near.
That we may therefore speak of the judgment scripturally and intelligently, we will distinctly recognize the division of it which is made in scripture, by calling one of the acts the first judgment, and the other the final judgment. With this explanation, we shall be understood when we say, that in speaking of the second coming of Christ we refer to the first and not to the final judgment. It is not our object in this article to discuss the subject of the second or final judgment. The simple confession here that we believe it to be future, will sufficiently preclude any honest inference from the doctrine we are about to present, that we believe, or wish to believe that the day of our judgment is past.
II.CHRIST'S DESIGNATION OF THE TIME OF HIS SECOND COMING.
In the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, after predicting 'the unexampled tribulations of the destruction of Jerusalem, Christ says: "Immediately after the tribulation of those days, shall the sun be darkened ....and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then Shall all the tribes of the earth mourn ; and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory." Matt. 24: 29, 30. The nature of the coming here described is fully determined, not only by the attendant " gathering of the elect," but also by the parallel description in Rev. 6. The language of John concerning the " great day of the wrath. of the Lamb," ushered in by the opening of the sixth seal, is so perfectly identical with the language of Christ in the passage quoted, that we may reasonably believe he copied it; and we cannot doubt that he used it with reference to the same events. As little can we doubt that both describe a day of judgment. Understanding then that our inquiry relates to the first great judgment spoken of in the sixth of Revelations, as well as in the twenty-, fourth of Matthew, we ask, What must we conclude is the true meaning of Christ's prediction concerning the time? He says that the time of that judgment should be "immediately after the tribulation" of the days of Jerusalem's overthrow: but since prejudice and tradition must for the present dictate to common sense, we are still obliged to ask, Does he mean what he says? In answering this question, we shall appeal to several statements in the subsequent context, and in other discourses of Christ.
1. After the above introduction of his second coming, Christ goes on to say, "Now learn a parable of the fig-tree. When his branch is yet tender and putteth.forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh. So likewise ye,, when ye see all these things, [viz. the visible signs which he had foretold in the former part of his discourse] know that it [i. e. his coming] is near, even at the doors." Matt. 24: 32, 33. We perceive in this that Christ had for his special aim to so instruct his disciples concerning the time that they should be in no danger of mistake; and therein we have a pledge of the simplicity of his language. So that there is no conceivable reason for doubting that he intended to convey the idea which lies on the face of his words; viz. that his second coming should follow the visible signs he foretold, as closely as summer follows the budding of the fig-tree. The last of those signs was the destruction of Jerusalem; and of course his statement here is precisely what it was before, viz., that the Son of man should come "immediately after the tribulation of those days." Moreover, it should be observed that his language plainly implies, that the persons he addressed would have an opportunity of observing the whole series of tokens that were to precede the second coming. On any other superstition the parable is impertinent.
2., But the context furnishes another and still more indisputable index of the real meaning of Christ. As though he were determined to accumulate emphasis to the uttermost, upon the truth he was uttering, he proceeds in the usual form of his most important affirmations, and with all the solemnity of a tremendous oath, to state once more the limitation of the time within which his coming should take place. ."Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." Matt.24: 34,35. ,
3. The meaning of Christ's statement in the 24th of Matthew is, if possible, still more clearly determined and manifested by the three following equivalent statements, which occur in his other discourses. (1,) " Verily I say unto you, ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of man be come." Matt. 10: 23. (2,) ''Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here who shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." 16: 28. ( 3,) "If I will that he [John] tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" Jno. 21: 22. Here we have three separate forms of the same prediction, all terminating in the same point _all affirming directly or by obvious implication, precisely the truth which we have found in three other forms before.
Some of those who are unwilling to accept the simple meaning of these texts, dispose of them by referring them, especially the two former, either to the transfiguration of Christ on the Mount, or to the day of Pentecost. But we ask, Where is the proof that either of these events is ever called elsewhere in the Evangelists the coming of Christ? If we suppose Christ to have used in these three instances, with reference to those events, an expression which every where else in his discourses refers to the day of judgment, and that too without any explanation, we impute to him the most outrageous duplicity. These forced interpretations trample not only on usage but on common sense; for at the transfiguration, Christ had not gone away; so that it would have been nonsense to have called that event his coming; and the effusion of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, was the coming, not of Christ (for he had gone away only forty days before), but of that "other comforter" which he had promised to send his disciples in his absence.
But, supposing it were possible for those who wish to evade the testimony in question, to bring some plausible proof that the first two of the three passages quoted, refer to the transfiguration or to the day of Pentecost-what will they say to the third? Christ had predicted Peter's death. Thereupon Peter asked him what should be the lot of John. He answered, "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me." Here is a plain intimation, first, that John should outlive Peter; secondly, that he should live till the second coming; and of course, thirdly, that the second coming should take place after the death of Peter, and before that of John. Now Peter was crucified long after the transfiguration and the day of Pentecost Of course "till I come " cannot refer to either of these events. But John certainly departed soon after the destruction of Jerusalem. Of course " till I come," must refer to an event which took place near the period of that destruction.
We may sum up and concentrate the testimony we have examined in this section, thus: Christ designated the time of his second coming in six different ways. 1. He placed it immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem. 2. He instructed his disciples to expect it when they should see the fearful signs that should precede and accompany the destruction of Jerusalem, as they would look for summer after the budding of the fig-tree. 3. He most solemnly declared it would take place before the generation contemporary with himself would pass away. 4. He assured his disciples that it would happen before their ministry to the Jews would be finished. 5. He said there were some standing with him who should live till the event. 6. He plainly intimated that John should tarry till his coming.
III. THE EXPECTATIONS OF THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH.
There is abundant proof in the New Testament that the primitive believers understood the foregoing predictions of Christ in their most obvious sense; and accordingly expected the second coming within the lifetime of some of their own number. We will notice a few specimens of their customary manner of speech concerning the second coming. " Ye come behind in no gift, waiting for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. 1: 7. "Our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." Phil. 3: 20. " Ye turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven." 1 Thess. 1: 10. " The grace of God .... hath appeared.... teaching us .... that we should live soberly, . . . . looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ." Tit. 2: 11-13. Such language as this is perfectly natural on the supposition that they understood Christ's predictions as setting the period of the second coming nigh at hand; and perfectly unnatural on any other supposition, as is proved by the fact that such language at the present day, when the churches generally believe the second coming to be afar off, is altogether obsolete; except among those whose theory, like that of Miller, places the second advent very near the present time. Men do not wait and look for a far distant event. Such language implies that the event expected is supposed to be impending.
The following may be taken as examples of another class of passages, which occur on almost every page of the Epistles. "Being confident of this very thing, that he who hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: .... that ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ." Phil. 1: 6, 10. "I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." , 1 Thess. 5: 23. "I give thee charge .... that thou keep this commandment without spot and blamless, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Tim. 6: 13, 14. Nothing can be plainer than that the second coming of. Christ, in the minds of those who use such language as this, was the event which stood at the end of their trial of obedience. They manifestly waited for it as though it were so nigh that their temporal probation would reach "unto" it.
In the following instances the expectations of primitive believers are expressed in the most explicit terms: "Let your moderation be known unto all men: the Lord is at hand." Phil. 4: 5. " Let us consider one another,. . . . exhorting one another: and so much the more as ye see the day approaching." Heb. 10: 24, 25. "Ye have need of patience,... for yet a little while, and he that shall come, will come, and will not tarry." Heb. 10: 36, 37. "Be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord .... Stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.. . . . The Judge Standeth at the door." James 5: 7-9. "The end of all things is at hand.
....The time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God." 1 Pet. 4: 7, 17.
In those remarkable passages of Paul which relate to the resurrection, it is impossible not to discover clear evidence of the same confident expectation of the speedy coming of the Lord. " We shall not all sleep,but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." 1 Cor. 15: 51, 52. " For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent (i. e, anticipate) them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air." 1 Thess. 4: 15-17. If Paul had believed the resurrection to be a far distant event, he would have said, " We who will then be dead shall be raised incorruptible, and they that remain alive shall be changed." But in both the instances, where such language might have been expected, he transposes the pronouns we and they, as though he studiously sought to make it manifest that he expected to be himself among the number of the living at the coming of the Lord.
We will not further multiply citations showing the expectations of primitive believers, but refer the reader, if he needs further evidence on the subject, to an examination of the whole New Testament. The position which we think the evidence already presented abundantly sustains, is, that as Christ predicted, so the primitive church expected, his second coming within the lifetime of their own generation.
IV. THE FULFILLMENT OF THE SIGNS PREDICTED.
Several of the prophets of the Old Testament foretold events that should go before the " great day of the Lord," and should be signs of its approach. Thus Malachi says, " Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord." Mal. 4: 5. ,We have it on Christ's authority, that this prediction was fulfilled in his day. He says of John the Baptist, " If ye will receive it, this is Elias which was for to come." Matt. 11: 14. Again, Joel says-" I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy; your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days I will pour out my Spirit. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come." Joel 2: 28-31. Peter, on the day of Pentecost, announced that this prophecy was then in course of fulfillment. When the people were amazed at the works of the Spirit, and said of them that spake with tongues, " These men are full of new wine," Peter said, "These are not drunken as ye suppose,....but this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;" and then he proceeds to recite the passage above quoted.
In the twenty-fourth of Matthew, Christ takes up the series of signs where Malachi and Joel leave it, and predicts with much minuteness the principal events of the period between the day of Pentecost and the destruction of Jerusalem. It should be noticed that these predictions, though mingled together, are of two distinct sorts; 1, those which relate to events in the history of the Christian church-such as persecutions, the appearance of antichrists, the universal publication of the gospel, &c.; 2, those which relate to events in the history of the Jews, and other nations-such as wars, pestilences, earthquakes, &c. We naturally look to external history for a record of these last events: and as the history of the downfall of the Jewish nation is generally familiar, and no one denies that the fearful physical calamities which Christ predicted in the 24th of Matthew actually came to pass in that generation, we need not offer any proof in.relation to the second class of predictions. It is of more importance. to direct the reader's attention to the evidence we have of the fulfillment of the first class of tokens_those which, by their connection with the history of the church, and by their spiritual nature, were more emphatically the precursors of the coming of Christ. It is not generally supposed that those tokens-especially the appearance of antichrist, and the universal publication of the gospel-did actually come to pass in that age; so that it is the more necessary that we should present our proof in relation to them. We find proof in the New Testament, that antichrist was revealed, and that the gospel was published to all nations, before the destruction of Jerusalem. The following synopsis presents Christ's predictions relative to those events, with the record of their fulfillment in the opposite column:
"Many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many." Matt. 24: 11.
"Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shal wax cold." Matt. 24: 12.
"There shall arise false Christs and false prophets." Matt. 24: 24. [Paul repeats this and preceding prediction in 2 Thess. 2: 3. "That day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed."
"This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a whitness unto al all nations; and then shall the end come." Matt. 24: 14.
"Many false prophets are gone out into the world." 1 John 4: 1.
"Thou hast left thy first love." Rev. 2: 4.
"I know they works, that thou are neither cold nor hot." Rev. 3: 15.
"Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time." 1 John 2: 18.
"They went forth and preached everywhere." Mark 16: 20. "But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the end of the world." Rom. 10: 18. "The gospel....is come unto you, as it is in all the world." "The gospel which was preached to every creature which is under heaven." Col. 1: 6, 23.
It may be noticed that while Paul, as the chief preacher of the primitive church, announces the universal publication of the gospel, John, the disciple who outlived most of his contemporaries, is the principal reporter of the facts which fulfilled Christ's predictions concerning antichrist. When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, antichrist was not revealed; but he said the "mystery of iniquity" was already working. In the later record of John, its manifestation is announced.
The language of 1 John 2: 18, is far more forcible in the original than in our translation. The word rendered time, is hora, from which the English word hour is derived, and is almost invariably elsewhere translated hour. It should read thus: _" Little children, it is the Iast hour: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last hour." The plain meaning of John is, We are on the very verge of the second coming; for the prophecies of Christ and Paul con cerning the revelation of antichrists, are already fulfilled.
If it should be said of the signs we have particularly noticed, as well as of the others, that, admitting them to have been fulfilled in the apostolic age, they are still to be regarded as signs not of the second coming, but merely of the destruction of Jerusalem, we reply, Christ certainly predicted one sign, and that the most notable of all, of which this cannot be said, and that sign was the destruction of Jerusalem itself. It is a great mistake to suppose that that event occupied the chief place in Christ's mind when he uttered the predictions of the 24th of Matthew. His language plainly shows that it was in his mind only the last and greatest sign of his invisible coming. The principal question of the disciples was, "What shall be the sign of thy coming ?" His answer was,
"Jerusalem shall be destroyed; the tribulation of its people shall be such as never was, and never shall be;" and " immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened,.... and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man." The tribulation, then, of the destruction of Jerusalem, was the true sign of his coming.
This accords with the prophecy of Daniel. "There shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time; and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book; and many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." Dan. 12: 1, 2. Here is a resurrection of many, a redemption of the righteous, and a destruction of the wicked-in a word a judgment immediately following the tribulation that is without example. Christ quotes Daniel in his description of the tribulation (Matt. 24: 15); so that there can be no doubt that he followed and repeated the above prophecy of Daniel when he said, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days, shall the sun be darkened," &c. The chief and last sign, then, of Christ's second coming, did actually and confessedly take place about forty years after his crucifixion, and of course within the lifetime of his own generation; and if, according to his prediction, his coming immediately followed that sign, his word, " Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not, pass till all these things be fulfilled," and the expectations of his followers, founded on that word, were found true.
V. THE NATURE OF THE SECOND COMING.
It can be proved by many examples, that popular anticipations, and even the calculations of the learned, are not safe guides to an understanding of the nature of events predicted in the Bible. Take a case already referred to, that of the mission of John the Baptist. The prediction concerning him was, "Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of that great and dreadful day of the Lord." This was written some hundreds of years before the appearance of John, and doubtless had been a subject of much meditation and calculation among the Jews, both learned and unlearned; and yet, after John had finished his ministry with great notoriety, and with the credit of being "a prophet indeed," even Christ's own disciples asked, "Why say the scribes that Elias must first come?"-a question that shows they had not yet recognized John as the Elias. Christ's answer, while it unequivocally settles the question as to the true application of the prophecy, holds up to view the blindness of the " scribes," in terms that are fitted to humble and warn the students of prophecy in all generations. " I say unto you that Elias is already come, and they knew him not, and have done unto him whatsoever they listed." Matt. 17: 12. Christ also himself, in the mode of his first coming, wholly disappointed the expectations which the Jews had formed concerning him, from the prophecies of the Old Testament.
It would not therefore be a strange thing, if it should be found that the second coming was an event very different from the conceptions of it, whether popular or learned, which men have gained by private interpretations of prophecy. _ Christ may have come at the time appointed, though the scribes "knew him not." Taking the caution of past examples, we will not assume that he did not come, because popular anticipations were not fulfilled; but rather that those anticipations were false, and wholly unworthy to be placed in the balance against the credit of those plain predictions which, as we have seen, appointed the time. At the outset of our inquiry concerning the nature of the second coming, we are bound to take for granted that it was an event which, though it may not have been recognized by external historians, was not inconsistent with the true history of the external events which followed the destruction of Jerusalem. This assumption leads us at once to the general conclusion, that the second coming was an event in the spiritual, and not in the natural world.
But here let it be observed by way of caution, that in placing the second coming in the spiritual and not in the natural world we give no place to that foolish unbelief which conceives of nothing but unsubstantial and shadowy existences and events, as pertaining to that world. To some minds, we may seem to belittle the glorious appearing of Christ, by referring it to the world of souls instead of the world of bodies; for it is fashionable to regard things spiritual and invisible, as little more than things visionary and poetical. But in our philosophy, mind is more truly a substantial entity than matter, and there is less of poetical nothingness in the spiritual than in the natural world. With these views, if we would magnify the coming of the Lord, we must refer it to a spiritual sphere. We measure the greatness of the event thus: As the body is to the soul, so was the awful overthrow of Jerusalem to the second coming of Christ. The slaughter of eleven hundred thousand Jews, was the bodily representative, the visible and inferior index, of that spiritual judgment in which " the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men; and the chief captains and the mighty men, and every bondman and every freeman, hid themselves in the dens and rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of his wrath is come."
It will be objected to these views of the spirituality of Christ's second coming, that the prediction was, " every eye shall see him." Rev. 1: 7. We may answer this objection in two ways:
1. By referring to the circumstances and context of the prediction. John is addressing the churches ;and after speaking of the grace and glory which Christ had conferred on them, he says, " Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him." This is naturally to be interpreted as a glorious promise to those whom he addressed; as if he had said, "Christ has washed us from our sins, and has made us kings and priests: now he is coming personally, and we shall all see him." He adds, " and they also which pierced him;" which implies that the wicked were not included in the preceding statement.
2. The language of John is necessarily limited by the nature of the subject concerning which he speaks; and since Christ was a spiritual and not a material being, the meaning of the apostle must be, " every spiritual eye shall see him." The nature even of Christ's body, after his resurrection, was such that his appearance to his disciples, is in all cases, described in the very terms that are used in relation to appearances of angels. When they were assembled together, and "the doors were shut," suddenly he" stood in their midst;" and in like manner he " vanished out of their sight." When he walked with them, "their eyes were holden and they knew him not." In several instances he is said to have "appeared to them;" and when he ascended up, "behold two men stood by them in white apparel." (See Mark 16: 9-14, Luke 24: 16, 31, 36, John 20: 18-26, 21: 1, Acts 1: 10.) In all this it is evident that Christ, after his resurrection, had the nature of angels; and the perceptions of those who saw him were not natural, but spiritual. His appearance was, in proper language, a vision, and none saw him but those whose spiritual eyes were opened. Stephen " being full of the Holy Ghost, saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God;" (Acts 7: 55;) and he saw him because he was full of the Holy Ghost, and not with his natural eyes, for the others saw nothing. So Paul saw Jesus Christ and talked with him, when those that were with him saw no man, and heard not the voice. (See. and compare Acts 9: 7,22: 9, 18, 1 Cor. 9:1.) John, also, on the isle of Patmos, was "in the Spirit" when he saw the Lord. (See Rev. 1 : 10.) There is no evidence that Jesus Christ has ever been seen by any natural eye since his resurrection. Indeed he expressly declared on the eve of his crucifixion, " The world seeth me no more." When therefore John asserted that every eye should see him,.he must have had in his mind the limitation which the nature of Christ, and this declaration required.
The word of the angels at the ascension of Christ, "This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1: 11), is sometimes urged as an objection to the theory of the second coming which we have presented. But it may more properly be regarded as a decisive objection to the popular expectation of a public personal advent, visible to the world. For as we have seen, his nature was that of angels after his resurrection, and his ascension was in the angelic world, as was shown by the presence of the angels who uttered the above declaration. Moreover, he ascended, not in the view of assembled nations, but in the presence of a few of his disciples. The event was of a very private nature; and, according to the word of the angels, his subsequent coming was to be equally private, as far as this world was concerned.
PRACTICAL BEARINGS OF THE PRECEDING VIEWS.
A mere theory, however magnificent, is not to be accounted of much value unless it is available for the increase of godliness and the furtherance of salvation; and it would be unwise to broach and insist upon doctrines tending to unsettle the foundations of ancient opinions, unless those doctrines are not only true, but practically profitable and necessary. Under such a persuasion, the preceding views have been presented; and we are prepared to answer those who may be disposed to ask concerning them, What good purpose will be effected by entertaining and promulgating them?
1. A clear view will be obtained of our own true position. So long as the first and second judgments are confounded, and the second coming of Christ is regarded as future, all our calculations concerning things to.come, are involved in inextricable confusion. Like the first discoverers of :the new world who imagined the. land they had found was the coast of Asia, we are sailing towards things unknown, mistaking them for things well known. Or rather, like a misguided navigator, who in sailing from the old to the new world, should pass by Cape Horn, and continue his voyage toward Asia, thinking America still before him, we are fancying a judgment future that is past, and approaching a judgment that we know nothing of. If true charts, and a correct knowledge of the earth, are practically valuable to the navigator, so a true interpretation of prophecies, at least in regard to the great subject of the day of judgment, is practically valuable to the believer. The first step toward an intelligent view of the last and now impending judgment, is a correct knowledge of the first judgment; and no man can rightly anticipate the nature of the "dispensation of the fullness of times," whose mind is embarrassed by confounding it with the dispensation of the primitive church.
2. A knowledge of our position will modify in many respects our views of duty, and our hopes. We will propose one or two examples. Of the ordinance of the Lord's Supper it is said, " As oft as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show [or preach] the Lord's death, till he come." 1 Cor. 11 : 26. Now since Christ in his first coming was a suffering victim, but Christ in his second coming was a conquering king, it is evident that an ordinance commemorating his humiliation may have been appropriate before his second coming, and inappropriate afterwards. If we imagine Christ has not yet come, we shall judge, and that with Paul's authority, that the eucharist is still an appropriate, and an enjoined ordinance. But if we believe that Christ's humiliation ceased at the destruction of Jerusalem, that he was vindicated and proclaimed King of the world by that event, we may conceive that some other ordinance, more expressive of victory, would be more appropriate to the present time. At all events, Paul's injunction of the ordinance cannot be quoted as applicable to us; for the expression " till he come," limits that injunction to a time long ago past; and if we continue the observance of it, we must derive our warrant for the practice simply from its expediency, not from its authority. Again, "the last enemy to be overcome is death;" and that enemy was to be overcome at Christ's coming. (See I Cor. 15: 26, 54.) Christ came "to destroy him that had the power of death;" and he commenced the war by sacrificing himself. His followers entered the breach after him, and like him laid down their lives for the future victory. But the sure word of promise was, that within that generation, at his coming, the final triumph should be won; and they who remained alive till that time should not die_nay, should not " sleep"-but should put on their immortal nature, by instantaneous change. Now if we believe that the second coming of Christ is yet future, in our minds the last enemy is not destroyed-death is yet an unconquered antagonist of the Son of God. But if we believe the second coming is past, we see Jesus a perfect conqueror, with death under his feet; and our faith and hope, according to the grace given us, lay hold on his perfect victory. This last example may be taken as a specimen of a general revolution of mind, producing great enlargement of hope, which will take place in any one who intelligently exchanges the common views of the second coming, for those which we have presented. The progress of God's general war with Satan, is not to be measured by the progress of that war in individuals. Victories may have been won, which we as individuals have not entered into. A spiritual and vigorous believer will look for encouragement and strength more to the general victories that are already won in Christ, than to any particular victories that are won in himself. Hence, when he finds that the second coming of Christ, with all its train of promised triumphs, instead of being yet far in the future, is eighteen hundred years in the past, he will lift up his head with joyful hope, and gird himself for the battle that is yet before him as an individual, with the exulting faith of one who is fighting on the distant wing of an army which has already routed the enemy at the center.
3. The views we have presented give important information of the present state of the primitive church, and of our relation to it. As the church of Jesus Christ is and forever will be one, every spiritual believer will refer his membership to that original church which was built on the " foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone;" making little account of the carnal distinction between the "church militant, " and the " church triumphant, " and altogether disallowing the antichristian notion of a plurality of discordant, and yet accepted, churches. "Our citizenship" and our church membership "are in heaven." Our " General Assembly" holds its sessions on Mount Zion. It is therefore highly important that we should acquaint ourselves as far as possible, with the present condition of the "church of the first-born." If we believe that the second coming of Christ is yet future, we must regard that church as yet " sleeping"-yet awaiting the trump of the resurrection-yet only expectants of their promised thrones. But believing the second coming past, we see that church advanced eighteen hundred years beyond the resurrection and the judgment. A hundred and forty-four thousand from the tribes of Israel, and an innumerable company out of all nations, have lived and reigned with Christ, through the " dark ages" which this world has seen since the destruction of Jerusalem, without division or apostasy: and whether we regard their numbers or their glory, we have no occasion to join the mourning of those who, by " looking on the outward appearance," are almost ready to confess Christianity a failure. Our church-the oldest in Christendom-has been neither dead nor asleep; and is now neither few nor feeble. We may illustrate its present condition, and our relation to it, thus: Suppose it to be a stream, commencing with Christ in his first coming, enlarging as it runs on its troubled way through the apostolic age, and at the second coming reaching the tranquil level of eternity. Still it flows onward, deepening and widening as it goes, and at the distance of eighteen hundred years, it has become a broad and mighty river. Now shall we, as tributary streams seeking a junction with this river, take a long backward circuit, and try to enter somewhere before the second coming, or shall we make our way toward it by the shortest course, and enter where it is broadest and deepest? We leave the answer to common sense, and to faith.
4. Our doctrine strikes a fatal blow at all those forms of modern fanaticism which have for their basis a testimony, that Christ has lately come or is now coming the second time. Paul says, " Though an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." Paul's gospel was that which Christ preached before him, and one main item of its tidings was, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand; this generation shall see the second coming of the Son of man, in the power and glory of eternal judgment." Now Swedenborg preached that the second coming of Christ took place in 1757 (1680 years after the time appointed), and that he was himself an eyewitness of the transaction. Ann Lee, the Mother of the Shakers, preached that the second coming took place in 1770, and that Christ made his appearance in her person. Many similar proclamations have been made from time to time, along the whole period of Christian history, and especially since the Reformation. Of all these we may say fearlessly, as Paul says, "though they be angels from heaven, let them be accursed;" they have denied the word of God. Together with these, another class of visionaries and impostors, less presumptuous, but equally foolish, may be noticed. We refer to those who either by pretended revelation, or by interpretation, have undertaken from time to time within the last few centuries, to prophesy of the near approach of the second advent. The intelligent reader will not seek protection for himself, or for the church of God, from the subtleties and snares of these deceivers, in ignorance and contempt of their doctrines, but in correct and clear views of the great subject which they mystify and abuse. , The protectors of the orthodoxy of the church will surely spend their strength for nought, in their labors to repel and quench heresies on the subject of the second coming, so loug.as they shrink from a manly and thorough investigation of that subject, and a bold confession of the truth to which such an investigation leads. We believe the views presented in this article, open a summary and sure way to an utter extinction of those heresies. As Christ declared that the day of his appearing should "come as a snare upon all them that dwell upon the face of the whole earth;" so we believe the true doctrine concerning that appearing, will finally be found a snare, in which nearly all the heresies of Christendom will be taken and destroyed.
5.These views throw much light on the history of what is commonly called the Christian church. They prove at the Outset, that that church has had at the very heart of its system of faith, ever since the destruction of Jerusalem, an enormous error _- nothing less than a palpable denial of the plainest word that Christ ever spoke; and that word relating to the greatest of all the subjects of faith, viz., the day of Judgment. It is commonly believed that the church of the first century after the apostles, was nearly as pure as the primitive church; and that its damnable degeneracy did not commence until the fourth or fifth century. But we see that a " strong delusion," to say the least, commenced its work in the very first successors of the primitive church; and we are led at once to draw a very broad line of distinction between the church that lived before and that which lived after the destruction of Jerusalem. How broad that line ought to be, we shall best learn by appealing " to the law and to the testimony." Let it be remembered that Christ and Paul repeatedly predicted a "great falling away," as one of the last signs of Christ's coming; that the later writings of John record the fulfillment of those predictions; that Peter specially characterizes the apostates as doubting and forsaking the promise of the second coming (2 Pet. 3: 4), and on the other hand the faithful in Christ are constantly characterized as " waiting for the Lord. In the last hour, then, of the apostolic age, there were co-existing, a true church and an apostate church; and the prime difference between them was, that one of them was "looking" for the coming of Christ, and the other was not. Now the promise was, that "to them that looked for him," he would appear and take them away. So then they that were left after his appearing, were the apostates who looked not for him; and they therefore evidently constitute the first link of the chain which connects the Christianity of subsequent ages, with the Christianity of the apostles. Indeed this might be inferred from the likeness of their faith to that of their successors. As they deferred, and practically forsook the promise of the coming of the Lord, so has the church, commonly called Christian, done in all ages since. We say then, that church is a successor, not of the true primitive church, but of that apostate moiety which forsook the promise of the second coming, and was rejected by the Lord; and its pretense of authority inherited from Christ and his apostles, is proved to be an imposition. Thus, instead of impotently attempting to hew away such branches as Popery, Episcopacy, &c., we lay the ax at the root of the whole tree of spurious Christianity, which has overshadowed the earth through these eighteen hundred years; thus too, we break the arrows of the infidels, who have ever Sought to pierce Christ by shooting at the church of the first centuries. Christ is in no way responsible for the church that has assumed his name since his second coming. The primitive and now heavenly church, has never laid aside, nor transferred its authority ; and it never has had and never will have a successor.
By thus disposing of the pretensions of the modern church we return to the genuine and original church. The hope of Christendom rests on this return; and whatever real aspiration is in the churches of to-day will hail the discovery of a possible connection with the living apostolic body, though it sets aside their own ecclesiastical conceit forever. By honestly dismissing their claim to represent the miracle-bearing, sin-conquering church of the apostolic age, the present churches will establish a right to a certain amount of consideration. It will be admitted to their credit that they have made the name of Christ and a rudimental knowledge of him to prevail in the world; that they have been the depositaries selected by Providence to preserve and distribute the Bible; and that the inspiration of mental progress has many times found a channel in their organizations. As the Jewish polity formed a matrix from which was born Christianity (the mother passing away in the birth-process), so the modern churches have served as a matrix for truths that are to supersede them. One of the greatest of these is that which we have here discussed; the truth, viz., that the Second Coming of Christ eighteen hundred years ago established his heavenly kingdom, and gave his first followers a charter of immortality as a perpetual church, which should be continually recognized, and toward union with which the faith, hope, and aspiration of all should tend.
ON a previous page was given a brief statement of the social organization of the O. C., and its manner of disposing of the family relation. As its treatment of marriage is admitted to be a radical innovation on the modes of the past, and is most subject to be called in question on the score of morality, we here offer a more extended, though still a necessarily brief, presentation of the principles on which it proceeds. The Bible, by those who believe it, is of course regarded as the first authority in matters of social morality. Oneida Communists stand with the most conservative in this conviction, and meet the issue of social reconstruction squarely on Bible ground. In the following article is a specimen of the scripture reading and interpretation by which they are led to the position which they assume.
THE BIBLE ON MARRIAGE.
It is a commonly received opinion that the Bible has but one doctrine on the subject of marriage, and that altogether on the side of the present system; and that whoever ventures to suggest anything different from it, or any possible improvement on the established method of relating the sexes to each other, is a madman or an infidel. Entertaining a different conclusion, we are willing to enter the field of discussion, and give the reasons why we believe the record of inspiration contemplates a more progressive philosophy of social relations.
THE AUTHORITY RECOGNIZED.
At the outset we avow ourselves to be strictly Bible men - disciples of Christ and of Paul, in relation to the subject of marriage. We do not on the one hand turn aside, with some, to independent philosophical speculation; nor do we appeal with others to the authority of a new revelation. We adhere only to the Bible, and feel bound to abide by its judgment, as set forth in the New Testament, believing sincerely in the inspiration of its writers, and that their views accord in fact with eternal truth. We propose to find out precisely what they did teach in relation to marriage; and having done so, we shall endeavor not to misrepresent their views to ourselves or others.
THE NEW TESTAMENT AGAINST DIVORCE.
So much as this is perfectly clear: The New Testament writers were not in favor of freedom of divorce, as a means of mitigating the difficulties connected with marriage. There can be no mistake about the fact that Christ, instead of favoring freedom of divorce, as it had existed under the Mosaic dispensation, restored the marriage-law to its simplicity and rigor, allowing no divorce, except in cases of adultery. (Mark 10.) Paul stood substantially on the same ground; that is, he explicitly forbade believers to sunder the external marriage tie. (1 Cor. 7.) It is true he supposed the case of separation brought about by the departure of an unbelieving partner, and said that the other was not in bondage in such cases. Whether this in his mind amounted to the privilege of divorce and of marrying again, we cannot perhaps determine; but at all events, it was his will that the whole movement and responsibility of separation should be laid on the unbeliever. He did not allow the gospel to introduce separation between husband and wife, or to relax at all the marriage code.
The Bible view of divorce may be illustrated thus: Suppose a commercial system which brings people into a general condition or debt, one to another. Now one way to mitigate this fact and to release people from such a state of things, would be to enact a general bankrupt-law, which would make an end of all obligation by legal repudiation. The bankrupt-law operates to release a man from his promises; and this is just the nature of any legal increase of freedom by divorce.
Christ and Paul, however, were clearly opposed to any bankrupt-law in relation to marriage, as being a mode of discharge not contemplated in the original contract, and as dishonestly rescinding unlimited obligations.
Sympathizing with them in this respect, we as Bible Communists are on entirely different ground from that of the infidels, Owenites, and western legislators, who, at different times, have aimed to lighten the responsibilities of marriage, by introducing an easy system of separation. We will loyally abide by the view of Christ and of Paul on that subject; and hold if there is to be any alleviation of the troubles of marriage, it should come in some other way than by freedom of divorce.
THE NEW TESTAMENT AGAINST POLYGAMY.
Again, we are clear that the teaching of the New Testament is sufficiently distinct against polygamy. There is nothing in it positively explicit on this point; but the drift of its principles is against plural marriages. We do not think it is fair to infer any thing against polygamy from the saying of Christ, "What God hath joined together let not man put asunder"-the original doctrine of inviolability on which he insisted as against divorce-because it is not a matter of course that a man shall abandon his first wife by taking a second. No such thing did happen under the polygamic economy of the patriarchs; on the contrary it was well understood that the contract with the first wife could be fulfilled, consistently with taking a second.. Christ, in that saying, is pointing his artillery against putting away. If polygamy were understood to be a nullification of any previous marriage, then that saying would operate against it. But there is no intimation of any such thing in the New Testament; and hence the objection to polygamy must be placed on other grounds.
Perhaps the strongest citation from Scripture against the polygamic system is to be found in the examples of the apostles, and the distinct intimation of Paul's opinion against it in the saying, "A bishop must be the husband of one wife." This passage is a fair hit at polygamy ; but it is nothing more. It is not to be taken as a positive approval of marriage. The apostle here shows that he prefers monogamy to a certain other form of marriage; but he elsewhere shows that he prefers celibacy to either. Finding marriage in general to operate as a source of "distraction" from spiritual service, and a cause of " trouble in the flesh," (see 1 Cor. 7), he objects specially to polygamy as the worst form of it, and advises the bishop, if he must enter marriage at all, to be as little involved in it as possible.
Here it is proper to observe the concurrence, in certain points, of monogamy and polygamy. It is plain that the fundamental principle of both, is the ownership of woman by man. The monogamist claims one woman as his wife; the polygamist, two or a dozen; but the essential thing, the bond of relationship constituting marriage, in both cases, is the same, namely, a claim of ownership. Now, as the gospel in its ultimate principles, expressed on the day of Pentecost, tends to supersede private ownership, Paul was evidently consistent in choosing those forms and institutions which came nearest to the gospel standard. The restricted ownership of marriage was better in his view than the license of polygamy, and better still as an expression of Christian unselfishness, was the total abstinence from marriage proprietorship which he chose for himself.
AGAMY THE RESURRECTION STANDARD.
We come now to ascertain more definitely the precise position of Christ and Paul with respect to all social relations, that of marriage included. It is plain that the constitutional principle on which they stood, toward which they were leading the church, and which they expected would expand and occupy the whole field of the future, was declared in the saying of Christ, " In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage." Now, whatever may be the exact meaning of the state designated by the term "resurrection," it was undeniably the condition towards which Paul was urging his course, the condition towards which he ever pointed the church as the goal immediately before them. He continually pressed on believers the importance of living in heaven; of becoming citizens of heaven; and the consequence of this change of residence (so to speak) on their social and proprietary relations was constantly kept before them. "If ye then be risen with Christ," said he, "seek those things that are above." What were those things? Marriage certainly was not one of them. " Lay not up for yourselves," said Jesus, "treasures on earth, where moth and rust do corrupt; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven;" i. e., Do not depend upon perishable possessions like money, or seek temporary fellowships like marriage, but lay up for yourselves eternal connections. In the resurrection, marriage was to be superseded by universal unity. That the disciples were intent on realizing this condition, and introducing the heavenly state into this world, is shown by the prayer which Christ instructed them to pray: "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done ON EARTH AS IT IS DONE IN HEAVEN." Their position, thus negatively ascertained, was one not in favor of divorce, not in favor of polygamy, and not in favor of marriage, but tending to abolish it. If the question be asked how they could be opposed to marriage and yet opposed to divorce, how freedom from the one could be obtained without the other, the answer must be sought by rising with them to a sphere of truth above the ordinary level of thought, and viewing the subject from the spiritual stand-point which they established.
CHRISTIAN LIFE-A POSTHUMOUS CONDITION.
The doctrine that death is the legitimate end of the contract of marriage, is distinctly conceded by all. "A woman is bound by the law to her husband as long as he liveth ; but if the husband be dead she is loosed from the law of her husband." Paul and Christ were certainly not in favor of divorce by any other power than that of death. They adhered to the principle of marriage for life without any essential exceptions. But they found a way to introduce what be called a posthumous state into this world, by the application of the death of Christ. Their doctrine was, that by believing in Christ we are crucified with him. "If one died for all, then all died." It may be said that the apostle did not intend to apply the death here spoken of to marriage. We reply, he certainly did apply it as a release from other worldly ordinances. The whole Jewish law was over the church, and it was like the law of marriage, in that it was over them for life; and the only outlet from its ordinances, to the conscientious Jew, was by death. Yet Paul everywhere proclaimed release from them, by union with the death of Christ. Though he did not carry out the principle immediately, in reference to marriage, by violently dissolving ties already formed, it is perfectly clear that the same logic that would make an end of any part of the Jewish law, would make an end of marriage. If that is a substantial principle of the gospel (and it seems to us to be the very center of it), then we can see how they could oppose divorce, which is separation under mere human sanction, and yet favor the abolition of marriage, in view of the posthumous state that was to come into the world by virtue of the death and resurrection of Christ. They certainly contemplated that posthumous state as their landing-place, and were pressing towards it; and in view of entering into it as fast as possible, they discouraged marriage; preferring not to encumber themselves with transitory ties, but seeking rather with their whole hearts the resurrection state.
And here we will remark again, that, this doctrine of the believer's death and resurrection by union with Christ, however foolish it may seem now, was in the primitive church the very core of the gospel. They realized the fact that they were past death, and so were delivered from sin and legality, by the cross of Christ. This is the meaning of those frequent declarations of Paul, " I am crucified with Christ"-" I am determined not to glory, save in the cross of Christ, whereby I am crucified to the world, and. the world to me," &e. This doctrine and belief had a tremendous practical bearing upon their character and position; and it is the grand apostasy of Christendom that it has since lost sight of it. The cross of Christ, putting men through death and into a posthumous state, is certainly the spiritual truth which must be restored to the throne of Christianity.
This principle, as we have said, was not suddenly carried through into all its bearings on marriage; but Paul did press it so far as to demand that the heart should assume the eternal, heavenly state; for he says, " Let them that have wives be as though they had none." So that in fact he gave his word for abolishing marriage, in the heart, on the spot.
THE CLAIM OF SHAKERISM UNFOUNDED.
We have thus far carefully traced the doctrine of Christ and Paul on the subject of marriage, developing the negative view. We have found them not in favor of divorce, and not polygamists, but pressing toward the cessation of marriage itself. The question remains, as to what they expected would take the place of marriage in the posthumous or resurrection state.
In answer to this, it is evident that two theories may arise, and only two. The whole question lies between the Shaker doctrine, that there is no sexual relation or constitution in heaven, and the doctrine of what may be called pantogamy, which recognizes the continued existence of the sexual relation, but excludes ownership, and replaces human beings where they were as children-in friendship and freedom, without selfish possession. These two are the only theories that are possible as to the resurrection state; which state, be it remembered, Christ and his disciples adhered to as far as possible in this world, and contemplated introducing in its fulness.
We certainly have no disposition to wrest the scriptures, or misrepresent the principles of Christ and Paul in this matter. We can very readily consent to Shakerism, if that is their doctrine. We only want to know what they really believed and taught about the resurrection state. If they saw there Shakerism, we wish to be Shakers; if some other state of society, that form of society shall be ours. We are determined, for ourselves, to follow hard after Paul and Christ, in their theory of heavenly society.
But in the first place, we find no necessity whatever of a Shaker interpretation of the passage-" In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage." The question proposed by the Sadducees, evidently referred to the matter of ownership. Seven men had been married to one woman, and dying successively, the question was, whose she should be in the resurrection. Suppose the question had been asked in reference to slavery instead of marriage, thus: A man owning a slave dies, and.leaves him to his brother: he dying, bequeaths him to the next brother: and so seven of them in succession own this slave. Now whose slave shall he be in the resurrection? This, evidently, is the parallel of the Sadducees' question; and Christ's answer is as though he had said that in the resurrection there are neither slaves nor slaveholders. It is a nullification of the idea of marriage ownership. Can anything more be made of it? To assume from this passage a nullification of the sexual relation, as the Shakers and others do, is as absurd as it would be to assume that, because there is no slavery, there is therefore no serving one another in the resurrection; whereas, the gospel teaches that there is more serving one another there, than in the world. There is a very important distinction to be observed between the abolition of ownership and the abolition of love-relations.
COMMUNISM THE FINAL STATE.
While, therefore, we are clear that marriage as a system of ownership, is to be abolished, it does not necessarily follow that sex is to be obliterated, nor that Shakerism is to take the place of marriage; on the contrary the whole spirit of the gospel in regard to service and freedom, and the whole purport of the doctrine, "Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter the kingdom of heaven," go far the other way; indicating that in that posthumous state which we are taught to pray for and expect on earth, the relation of the sexes will be that described in Christ's prayer-" that they may all be one, even as I and my Father are one "-which we call pantogamy.
Recurring to the illustration with which we began, we may sum up and present in the shortest possible compass, the view to which the preceding examination of the Bible has led us, as follows:
Let a state of general debt, or in other words, the credit-system, represent marriage. Then the divorce scheme of Owen, James, and others, will be a bankrupt-law; the polygamic system of the Mormons and others, will be increased speculation, or an inflation of the credit-system; and the policy of the Shakers will be stoppage of business, to avoid debt, speculation, &c.,_in other words, stagnation. Now it is conceivable that honest men should insist that all debts actually contracted shall be paid, and at the same time should be opposed to contracting debts. Such men would oppose a bankrupt-law on the one hand, and the entire credit-system on the other. It is also conceivable, that prudent men should oppose the entire credit-system, and of course dislike specially any increase of speculation, while still they might be in favor of free business and opposed to stagnation. So we can conceive that Christ and Paul, as honest and prudent men, were opposed to divorce on the one hand, and to marriage on the other; and being opposed to marriage, of course specially disapproved of polygamy; and yet were not Shakers, but were in favor of free social relations, to be inaugurated as soon as existing obligations could be disposed of, and the old system of bondage removed safely and peaceably.
If we have made any mistake in regard to the final anticipated state, or the interpretation of Christ's words concerning it, the error must be shown. We shall follow Christ and Paul, let the path lead where it will. It has unmistakably led us to the expectation that marriage is to be done away; and the only question is, What next? Shakerism, or something else? We call for discussion. If the conservative interpreters of the Bible will convince us that the Shaker view is correct, relating to the posthumous state, which (bear in mind), we are to pray for and expect on earth, then let it be so. We shall thankfully accept anything that can be shown to be truth on this subject. In respect to their estimate of marriage, we think the Shakers nearer right than the popular churches. We agree with them in regard to the necessity of its abolishment, and the only question is as to subsequent institutions. This is the point for the Christian world to discuss and settle. In the light which is now breaking forth, from the Bible and from reason, on the subject of marriage, all free-thinking believers will find themselves compelled to move; and it must be either toward our position or that of the Shakers. We can see no other alternative. Then let there be a fair investigation of the whole subject: let all ascertain, as we have tried to do, the social formation that belongs to the post-mortal, or heavenly and eternal state, and accommodate themselves thereto.
The displacement of marriage, as a part of the millenial programme of a perfected social organization, is not an anarchic idea. On the contrary it is associated by the Oneida Communists with the strongest guarantees of morality, order, and the protection of individual and public interests. The following manifesto contains a definition of affectional freedom as it is understood in their society.
This terrible combination of two very good ideas-freedom and love-was first used by the writers of the Oneida Community about eighteen years ago, and probably originated with them. It was however soon taken up by a very different class of speculators scattered about the country, and has come to be the name of a form of socialism with which we have but little affinity. Still it is sometimes applied to our Communities; and as we are certainly responsible for starting it into circulation, it seems to be our duty to tell what meaning we attach to it, and in what sense we are willing to accept it as a designation of our social system.
The obvious and essential difference between marriage and licentious connections may be stated thus:
Marriage is permanent union. Whoredom is a temporary flirtation.
In marriage, communism of property goes with communism of persons. In whoredom, love is paid for by the job.
Marriage makes a man responsible for the consequences of his acts of love to a woman. In whoredom a man imposes on a woman the heavy burdens of maternity, ruining perhaps her reputation and her health, and then goes his way without responsibility.
Marriage provides for the maintenance and education of children. Whoredom ignores children as nuisances, and leaves them to chance.
Now in respect to every one of these points of difference between marriage and whoredom, we stand with marriage. Free love with us does not mean freedom to love to-day and leave to-morrow; nor freedom to take a woman's person and keep our property to ourselves; nor freedom to freight a woman with our offspring and send her down stream without care or help; nor freedom to beget children and leave them to the street and the poor-house. Our Communities are families, as distinctly bounded and separated from promiscuous society as ordinary households. The tie that binds us together is as permanent and sacred, to say the least, as that of marriage, for it is our religion. We receive no members (except by deception or mistake), who do not give heart and hand to the family interest for life and forever. Community of property extends just as far as freedom of love. Every man's care and every dollar of the common property is pledged for the maintenance and protection of the women, and the education of the children of the Community. Bastardy, in any disastrous sense of the word, is simply impossible in such a social state. Whoever will take the trouble to follow our track from the beginning, will find no forsaken women or children by the way. In this respect we claim to be a little ahead of marriage and common civilization.
We are not sure how far the class of socialists called "free lovers" would claim for themselves anything like the above defense from the charge of reckless and cruel freedom; but our impression is that their position, scattered as they are, without organization or definite separation from surrounding society, makes it impossible for them to follow and care for the consequences of their freedom, and thus exposes them to the just charge of licentiousness. At all events their platform is entirely different from ours, and they must answer for themselves. We are not "free lovers" in any sense that makes love less binding or responsible than it is in marriage.
Finally we have to bring to view a physiologico-moral principle, which has from the beginning governed the Community in its sexual relations, and which, as a conservative rule, is the complement of Communism, viz., the practice of Male Continence. This important principle, which might almost claim the rank of a physiological discovery, has begun to attract the attention of thoughtful persons in this country and Europe. It is explained in the following correspondence, the first letter being one of inquiry, addressed to the organ of the Communities, and the second, being the reply.
LETTER OF INQUIRY.
New York, July 20, 1866.
EDITOR OF THE CIRCULAR:
Dear Sir:-I have read your paper for several months past, and although I do not agree with what you promulgate as the principles of enlightened Christianity, yet I have read each paper attentively and thoroughly, thus doing all justice to your ideas. I am now preparing to go to Europe to study medicine, and shall therefore no longer be able to receive your paper. But before bidding goodbye, I would like to avail myself of your invitation to those who are not satisfied with your account of the Oneida Community as published on the last page of the CIRCULAR, to ask further. As I am to be a medical man, I would like to know definitely what you mean by your principle of "male continence." I have just graduated from college, and after hearing considerable discussion there in the shape of lectures, some relating directly to this subject, I am ignorant of any means of legitimate male continence but one. Of course I am well aware of the tricks of the French women, by which male continence is effectually secured on all occasions, but such a barbarous means of procedure cannot possibly be employed by you. The only means I am acquainted with, however, is entirely artificial, and is liable to the charge of abusing the organs which should above everything else be held sacred and kept sound
If you should have time, I would like to have a detailed account of your process, which could not but be interesting to any professional man. I remain yours, &c., _ _
MR. NOYES'S REPLY.
New York, July 26, 1866.
DEAR SIR:-Your letter addressed to the CIRCULAR, asking for information in regard to our method of controlling propagation, has been sent to me, and as it seems to come from a well-disposed person (though unknown to me), I will endeavor to give it a faithful answer-such, at least, as will be sufficient for scientific purposes.
The first question, or rather, perhaps I should say, the previous question in regard to "male continence" is, whether it is desirable or proper that men and women should establish intelligent, voluntary control over the propagative function. Is it not better (it may be asked) to leave " nature" to take its course (subject to the general rules of legal chastity), and let children come as chance or the unknown powers may direct, without putting any restraint on sexual intercourse after it is once licensed by marriage, or on the freedom of all to take out such license ? If you assent to this latter view, or have any inclination toward it, I would recommend to you the study of Malthus on Population. Not that I think he has pointed out any thing like the true method of voluntary control over propagation, but because he has demonstrated beyond debate the absolute necessity of such control in some way, unless we consent and expect that the human race, like other animals, shall be forever kept down to its necessary limits, by the ghastly agencies of war, pestilence and famine.
For my part, I have no doubt that it is perfectly proper that we should endeavor to rise above " nature" and the destiny of the brutes in this matter. I would have men seek and hope for discovery in this direction, as freely as in the development of steam power or the art of printing; and I would have them expect that He who has promised the "good time" when vice and misery shall be abolished, will at last give us sure light on this darkest of all problems-how to subject human propagation to the control of science.
But whether study and invention in this direction are proper or not, they are actually at work, and most busily in the wrong quarters. Let us see how many different ways have already been proposed for limiting human increase.
In the first place, the practice of child-killing, either by exposure or violence, is almost as old as the world, and as extensive as barbarism. Even Plato recommends something of this kind, as a waste-gate for vicious increase, in his scheme for a model republic.
Then we have the practice of abortion, reduced in modern times to a science, and almost to a distinct. profession. A large part of this business is carried on by means of medicines advertised in obscure but intelligible terms as embryo destroyers or preventives of conception.
Then what a variety of mechanical tricks there are for frustrating the natural effects of the propagative act. You allude to several of these contrivances, in terms of reprobation from which I should not dissent. The least objectionable of them (if there is any difference), seems to me to be that recommended many years ago by Robert Dale Owen, in a book entitled Moral Physiology; viz., the simple device of withdrawing immediately before emission.
Besides all these disreputable methods, we have several more respectable schemes for attaining the great object of limiting procreation. Malthus proposes and urges that all Men, and especially the poor, shall be taught their responsibilities in the light of science, and so be put under inducements not to marry. This prudential check on population _the discouragement of marriage-undoubtedly operates to a considerable extent in all civilized society, and to the greatest extent on the classes most enlightened. It has Paul's authority in its favor (see 1st Cor. 7); and probably would not be condemned generally by people who claim to be considerate. And yet its advocates have to confess that it increases the danger of licentiousness; and on the whole the teaching that is most popular, in spite of Malthus and Paul, is that marriage, with all its liabilities, is a moral and patriotic duty.
Finally, Shakerism, which actually prohibits marriage on religious grounds, is only the most stringent and imposing of human contrivances for avoiding the woes of undesired propagation.
All these experimenters in the art of controlling propagation, may be reduced in principle to three classes, viz.:
- 1. Those who seek to prevent the congress of the sexes, such as Malthus and the Shakers.
- 2. Those who seek to prevent the natural effects of the propagative act, viz., the French inventors and Owen.
- 3. Those who seek to destroy the living results of the propagative act, viz., the abortionists and child-killers.
Now it may seem to you that any new scheme of control over propagation must inevitably fall to one of these three classes; and yet I assure you that we have a method that does not fairly belong to any of them. I will try to show you our fourth way.
We begin by analyzing the act of sexual intercourse. It is not such a simple affair that it cannot be taken in parts. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. Its beginning and most elementary form is the simple presence of the male organ in the female Then usually follows a series of reciprocal motions. Finally this exercise brings on a reflex nervous action or ejaculatory " crisis" which expels the seed, Now we insist that this whole process, up to the very moment of emission, is voluntary, entirely under the control of the moral faculty, and can be stopped at any point. In other words the presence and the motions can be continued or stopped at will, and it is only the final orgasm that is automatic or uncontrollable.
Suppose then, that a man, in lawful intercourse with woman, choosing for good reasons not to beget a child or to disable himself, should stop at the primary stage and content himself with simple presence continued as long as agreeable? Would there be any harm? It cannot be injurious to refrain from furious excitement. Would there be no good? I appeal to the memory of every man who has had good sexual experience to say whether, on the whole, the sweetest and noblest period of intercourse with woman is not that first moment of simple presence and spiritual efffusion, before the muscular exercise begins.
But we may go farther. Suppose the man chooses for good reasons, as before, to enjoy not only the simple presence, but also the reciprocal motion, and yet to stop short of the final crisis. Again I ask, Would there be any harm? Or would it do no good? I suppose physiologists might say, and I would acknowledge, that the excitement by motion might .be carried so far that a voluntary suppression of the commencing crisis would be injurious. But what if a man, knowing his own power and limits, should not even approach the crisis, and yet be able to enjoy the presence and the motion ad libitum? If you say that this is impossible, I answer that I know it is possible-nay, that it is easy.
I will admit, however, that it may be impossible to some, while it is possible to others. Paul intimates that some cannot " contain. " Men of certain temperaments and conditions are afflicted with involuntary emissions on very trivial excitement, and in their sleep. But I insist that these are exceptional, morbid cases that should be disciplined and improved; and that, in the normal condition, men are entirely competent to choose in sexual intercourse whether they will stop at any point in the voluntary stages of it, and so make it simply an act of communion, or go through to the involuntary stage, and make it an act of propagation.
You have now our whole theory of " male continence." It consists in analyzing sexual intercourse, recognizing in it two distinct acts, the social and the propagative, which can be separated practically, and affirming that it is best, not only with reference to prudential considerations, but for immediate pleasure, that a man should content himself with the social act, except when he intends procreation.
Let us see now if this scheme belongs to any of the three classes I mentioned. 1. It does not seek to prevent the congress of the sexes, but rather gives them more freedom by removing danger of undesired consequences. 2. It does not seek to prevent the natural effects of the propagative act, but to prevent the propagative act itself, except when it is intended to be effectual. 3. Of course it does not seek to destroy the living results of the propagative act, but provides that impregnation and child-bearing shall be voluntary, and of course desired.
And now, to speak affirmatively, the exact thing that our theory does propose, is to take that same power of moral restraint and self-control, which Paul, Malthus, the Shakers, and all considerate men use in one way or another to limit propagation, and instead of applying it as they do, to the prevention of the congress of the sexes, to introduce it at another stage of the proceedings, viz., after the sexes have come together in social effusion, and before they have reached the propagative acme; thus allowing them all and more than all the ordinary freedom of love (since the crisis always interrupts the romance), and at the same time avoiding undesired procreation and all the other evils incident to male incontinence. This is our fourth way, and we think it the better way.
The wholesale and ever ready objection to this method is that it is unnatural, and unauthorized by the example of other animals. I may answer in a wholesale way, that cooking, wearing clothes, living in houses, and almost every thing else done by civilized man, is unnatural in the same sense, and that a close adherence to the example of the brutes would require us to forego speech and go on " all fours!" But on the other hand, if it is natural in the best sense, as I believe it is, for rational beings to forsake the example of the brutes and improve nature by invention and discovery in all directions, then truly the argument turns the other way, and we shall have to confess that until men and women find a way to elevate their sexual performances above those of the brutes, by introducing into them moral culture, they are living in unnatural degradation.
But I will come closer to this objection. The real meaning of it is, that male continence, as taught by us, is a difficult and injurious interruption of a natural act. But every instance of self-denial is an interruption of some natural act. The man who virtuously contents himself with a look at a beautiful woman, is conscious of such an interruption. The lover who stops at a kiss, denies himself a natural progression. It is an easy, descending grade through all the approaches of sexual love, from the first touch of respectful friendship, to the final complete amalgamation. Must there be no interruption of this natural slide? Brutes, animal or human, tolerate none. Shall their ideas of self-denial prevail? Nay, it is the glory of man to control himself, and the Kingdom of Heaven summons him to self-control in ALL THINGS. If it is noble and beautiful for the betrothed lover to respect the law of marriage in the midst of the glories of courtship, it may be even more noble and beautiful for the wedded lover to respect the unwritten laws of health and propagation, in the midst of the ecstacies of sexual union. The same moral culture that ennobles the antecedents and approaches of marriage, will sometime surely glorify the consummation.
Of course, you will think of many other objections and questions, and I have many answers ready for you; but I will content myself for the present with this limited presentation-as becomes a professor of " male continence."
Yours respectfully, J. H. NOYES.
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Hand-book of the Oneida Community : with a sketch of its founder, and an outline of its constitution and
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